On Sunday morning, Mikalai Maslouski started live broadcasting on his YouTube. The blogger was willing to discuss protecting votes and photographing ballots at the upcoming presidential election.
However, two masked men in civvies approached Maslouski from behind and demanded he follow them. He managed to post a video of the detention on the Internet:
Later, human rights activists found out that the Youtuber was taken to the detention facility in Akrestsin Street as he is to serve the administrative arrest that had been imposed on him before.
More than 36,000 users have subscribed to Maslouski’s channel ‘Belarus for Change’. In the autumn of 2019, he ran for a seat in the parliamentary election, but, like other independent candidates, he did not pass.
This year, the Belarusian Central Election Commission (CEC) has introduced changes at some polling stations: now the booths will not be completely closed with curtains. Moreover, the citizens’ proposal to install cameras at polling stations at the expense of Belarusians does not meet the requirements of the election law, the CEC said on Sunday.
The 2020 presidential voting is to take place on August, 9. Since the beginning of the election campaign, incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s would be rival Viktar Babaryka, might-have been opponent Syarhei Tsikhanouski, politicians Mikalai Statkevich and Pavel Sevyarynets, as well as dozens of people have been placed into custody. In late June, the Belarusian Interior Ministry also launched a probe into ‘illegal activities’ in which presidential hopeful Valery Tsapkala was allegedly involved.
According to Belarusian human right watchdogs, about 190 people have been arrested for a total of 2,607 days under administrative code articles used for political persecution. As many as 333 people have been fined for more than 265,275 rubles (more than $110,000). Human rights defenders also report at least 1,140 cases of arbitrary detentions that took place between 6 May and 20 July.
According to human rights centre Viasna, there are 24 political prisoners in Belarus.