Authorities step up pressure on Viasna activists
Several human rights defenders working with the Human Rights Center “Viasna” have been questioned in criminal proceedings over the past few days, as the authorities continue to investigate the organization’s alleged involvement in the financing of the post-election protests.
The interrogations spanned across the country and have affected Viasna activists in Minsk, Viciebsk, Mahilioŭ, Brest, Babrujsk and Smarhoń.
Dzmitry Salauyou, Ales Dzerhachou, Ales Burakou, Uladzimir Malei, Leanid Svetsik, Siarhei Latinski, Barys Bukhel and Marharyta Vialichkina were questioned as witnesses, after they were summoned by the Investigative Committee’s local offices. All of them were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Salauyou was first interrogated on March 1, the day he was released after serving 12 days of administrative detention. He faced travel restrictions and was not allowed to leave the country, as a result.
The criminal investigation into Viasna’s activities was launched after a nationwide attack on human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society members on February 16. Nearly a hundred homes and offices were raided by the police who seized IT equipment, documents and money.
Earlier, criminal charges were used to arrest Viasna human rights activists and volunteers Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk, Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa. All of them are still being held in pre-trial prisons.