BAJ, Viasna under attack Updated
At least 25 human rights defenders, mostly working with the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, have been either detained or targeted in police raids this morning. Several offices were searched, both in Minsk and across Belarus, including Viasna’s office in Minsk.
As a result of the raids conducted by officers of GUBAZIK, the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, and riot police, several activists were detained, BAJ leader Andrei Bastunets and Viasna activist Dzmitry Salauyou, among others. The security officers searched the activists’ homes, seizing IT equipment and documents.
According to the Investigative Committee, the raids were linked to a criminal case opened under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them). The authorities allege that the human rights defenders were involved in “funding protests.”
UPD. During the day, the nation-wide police raids affected a total of over 40 activists. The police raided the central office of the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the two Minsk offices of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, as well as Viasna's office in Mahilioŭ. The central office of the independent trade union REP was also searched.
The raid affected the private apartments of numerous human rights defenders, including BAJ leaders Andrei Bastunets, Barys Haretski and Aleh Aheyeu, as well as the organization's legal adviser Kristina Richter, Viasna human rights defenders Andrei Paluda, Pavel Sapelka and Dzmitry Salauyou and several Viasna activists in other cities. Several dozen human rights defenders and journalists were targeted in Mahilioŭ, Brest, Viciebsk, Homieĺ, Mazyr, Rečyca, Baranavičy and other cities. Most of them were released without charges. A few activists remain in detention.