Viasna observers, protesters, journalists detained in Minsk and across country Updated
Six observers of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” have been detained by the police in Minsk’s central Yakub Kolas Square, which was expected to host an illegal protest by Mikalai Statkevich’s associates. The opposition politician himself was detained earlier this morning and sent to serve 10 days of administrative detention.
The police also detained several dozen protesters and four journalists of the Belsat TV channel. All of them were taken to police departments.
Human rights activists report numerous detentions of opposition activists in various places of Belarus, including in Babrujsk (at least 10 people), Biaroza, Brest, Sluck, Vilejka, Mahilioŭ (at least 11 persons), Maladziečna and other cities. All of them were going to take part in today’s protests in Minsk, including a concert near the Opera and Ballet Theatre, which was allowed by the authorities.
All the detainees were finally released. According to Viasna’s estimates, around 40 protesters were held yesterday in Minsk. Over a dozen will have to appear in court today on charges of illegal protesting. These include five Viasna observers: Maksim Kavaliou, Tatsiana Mastykina, Andrus Krechka, Ihar Bahachou and Nasta Loika. Mastykina was also charged with resisting arrest.
“At the police station, we were ordered to face the wall outside, with our hands up and our personal belongings on the ground. They took some things, then they searched our bags, pockets and took photos and fingerprints. Tanya (Tatsiana Mastykina) refused to obey... they took her away, forcibly fingerprinted her, holding her by the hair when photographing,” said observer Hanna Sakhankova, who was eventually released without charges.
Three persons remain in custody after being arrested in other cities of Belarus. Others were charged and released before trial.