Top election official seeks to open another criminal case against blogger Tsikhanouski

Might-have-been presidential candidate Syarhei Tsikhanouski publicly threatened to kill her during pre-election pickets, Lydia Yarmoshyna, Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC), claims.

Accordinf to the official, she appealed to the Investigative Committee with the request to check whether there had been elements of crime set out in Art.191 (impeding the work of the CEC) in Tsikhanouski’s actions.

“I am facing threats in connection with performing my professional duties,” Yarmoshyna said at Thursday’s session of the commission.

In her opinion, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s supporters have repeatedly violated electoral law; the pickets during which they collect signatures for her presidential nomination, were not peaceful as the picketers launched threats, Lidziya Yarmoshyna said.

“What does ‘snuff out’ mean? It is synonym for ‘to kill, to destroy’. This is a threat!” she said. The top official compared Tsikhanouskyis methods to ‘those of the mobsters in the 1990s’.

In May, Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the author of Youtube channel Страна Для Жизни ( A Country for Life) revealed his presidential ambitions while serving a 15-day jail term for participating in unauthorised mass events.

However, the Belarusian Central Election Commission refused to register his initiative group. According to them, only a person who intends to campaign for the presidency must sign the documents.As Syarhei Tsikhanouski was in custody at that moment, all the necessary documents were signed and filed by his wife. On the back of the situation, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya managed to get her initiative group registered instead.

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On May 29, the police arrested Syarhei Tsikhanouski, head of his wife’s nomination group, and at least 15 persons during a peaceful picket in Hrodna. It should be noted that one of the women (Alena K.) who showed up at the picket attempted to stir up a conflict with Tsikhanouski, which resulted in pushing and jostling. According to the official version, one policeman fell down and had to be taken to hospital. On May 30, the Interior Ministry initiated criminal investigation into an alleged act of violence against two police officers.

Human rights activists published the names of the detained after the incident in Hrodna: Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Yauhen Raznichenka, Dzmitry Furmanau, Uladzimir Navumik, Vyarhily Ushak, Alyaksandr Aranovich, Syarhei Kalmykou, Vasily Babrouski and Artsyom Sakau. The police searched the homes of the most of the detainees; some were transferred to Minsk remand prison #1.

Since late May, dozens of persons, including members of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative group and civil activists, have been detained or prevented from taking part in pre-election pickets. Notably, a wannabe presidential candidate does not have to get permission from the authorities for holding such a picket.

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