Viasna condemns persecution of opposition leader Statkevich as politically motivated
Mikalai Statkevich, opposition politician, former presidential candidate and ex-political prisoner, is facing criminal charges of “grave breach of public order” (Part 1, Art. 342 of the Criminal Code), his wife Maryna Adamovich said.
Statkevich was not eligible to run in this year’s election due to a 2010 criminal conviction, but attended several election pickets. He was detained on May 31 and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention on “illegal protesting” charges. On June 15, his jail term was doubled and he remained in the Minsk detention center before facing charges, the nature of which is not yet clear.
In mid-June, the same charges were brought against well-known blogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski and his associates. Later, the authorities reported the arrest of several other known bloggers: Uladzimir Niaronski, Siarhei Piatrukhin, Uladzimir Tsyhanovich, and Ihar Losik. All of them are in custody as part of a criminal investigation under Art. 342.
On June 29, human rights defenders learned about the arrest of two more critical bloggers: Aliaksandr Kabanau and Dzmitry Kazlou.
As a result, Viasna is aware of 17 persons arrested on political grounds during the presidential election. Human rights activists consider all of them as political prisoners and demand their immediate release.
In yesterday’s statement, Amnesty International called 17 persons arrested in Belarus prisoners of conscience. These include Siarhei Tskikhanouski, Viktar Babaryka, and a number of bloggers and journalists.