Police raid Minsk office of “Tell the Truth!” movement
As Andrey Dzmitryyew, deputy chairman of the “Tell the Truth!” movement, told BelaPAN, the police raid disrupted a training seminar that was conducted for provincial activists in connection with the People’s Referendum campaign and local elections to be held in Belarus in early 2014.
All those present were ordered into a prisoner van and taken to the Kastrychnitski district police station. “We were all placed in a conference hall, where some 10 police officers began to question us,” Mr. Dzmitryyew said. “They took fingerprints, photographed and filmed us, and copied the contents of our laptops and cameras.”
According to Mr. Dzmitryyew, the police seized flyers concerning the People’s Referendum campaign and copies of Valery Karbalevich’s book about Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
“It looked like they wanted to intimidate our activists among whom there were many new people from the provinces, but they failed,” Mr. Dzmitryyew said. “On the contrary, they helped us become a good team. Everyone left the police station in good spirits and we discussed our further course of action.”
BelaPAN cameraman Vasil Syamashka was arrested by police when he was filming and interviewing activists of the “Tell the Truth!” movement exiting the police station. He spent more than an hour at the station and was released without a charge after policemen deleted the footage from his camera. After Mr. Syamashka remarked that he would interview Mr. Dzmitryyew and others anew, he was told that he was free to do that, but not against the background of the police station.
The People’s Referendum campaign was launched by the “Tell the Truth!” movement, the Movement for Freedom and the Belarusian Popular Front earlier this year for the purpose of selecting five questions for a referendum. The organizations plan to start collecting voter signatures to initiate a national referendum after the questions are selected. One of the questions is expected to be about the reestablishment of the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency.
A 2004 referendum removed the two-term limit on the presidency in Belarus, allowing Alyaksandr Lukashenka to be reelected in 2006 and 2010. Both the referendum and the presidential votes were condemned by the international community as rigged.