Dozens face charges ahead of new protests against Belarus-Russia integration
Nearly forty people have been summoned to the police over their involvement in two protests against planned integration with Russia held in central Minsk on December 7 and 8. The demonstrations were not allowed by the authorities and the city police department had warned the protesters against joining the assemblies.
The police chose not to arrest the demonstrators. However, it is evident now that many will stand trials on charges of “illegal protesting.” The courts usually impose heavy fines in such cases. In separate hearings, protesters are sentenced to short prison terms ranging from 5 to 25 days.
Pavel Seviarynets, co-chairman of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democracy party, was briefly detained yesterday to face administrative charges. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail but eventually released.
Maksim Viniarski, member of the European Belarus opposition group, has been awarded a 15-day prison term. Two more activists were reportedly arrested but have not yet been tried.
The new phase of repression against peaceful protesters came among reports of more demonstrations scheduled for the coming days. The arrests are clearly meant to deter opposition leaders from organizing the protests and ordinary people from joining them.