Siarhei Tsikhanouski faces new charge after 6 months in prison
Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a critical vlogger who was arrested in May shortly after announcing his presidential nomination, has faced a new charge, which his lawyer says is an illegal means to keep him in prison without trial for up to 18 months.
The author of the YouTube channel "Country for Living" was expected to finally stand trial, after six months of his pre-trial detention expired on November 28. Tsikhanouski was initially charged with “breaching public order” over an incident during the election rally on May 29 in Hrodna. He later faced an additional charge of “obstructing the work of the Central Election Commission”.
Following his Tsikhanouski’s arrest, Belarusian human rights organizations called his persecution politically motivated and demanded his immediate release.
The new charge is “incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or hatred committed by a group of persons or, through negligence, which entailed the death of a person or other grave consequences”. It is allegedly linked to the vlogger’s verbal attacks on the police. The details of the allegations remain unknown, as the authorities refuse to elaborate on the charges and the lawyer cannot disclose any information for fear of criminal persecution.
Earlier, Belarusian human rights activists criticized the approach of viewing the police are a separate social group.