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More than 50 charges of administrative violations were brought by police officers and traffic police against activists protesting against the opening of an entertainment center and a restaurant on the site of the mass graves of victims of Stalin-era repression in the memorial forest of Kurapaty on the outskirts of Minsk.
Besides illegal protesting, the activists were charged with walking on the roadway, after they tried to prevent customers from entering the facility.
Human rights defenders believe that the construction was illegal, as it infringes on the Kurapaty protective zone.
“In fact, this is entertainment area, which was built in violation of the law,” Ales Bialiatski, leader of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, said.
Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, leaders of the opposition REP trade union, both accused of “tax evasion in especially large amounts”, refused to write a petition for clemency to President Lukashenka.
“We are not guilty. So there is no reason to seek pardon,” Fiadynich said.
If convicted, the trade unionists may be imprisoned for up to 7 years with possible confiscation of property.
The country’s leading human rights groups insist the charges against Fiadynich and Komlik are politically motivated.
The Prosecutor's Office of Brest issued official warnings to four protesters against the construction of a battery factory, which the campaigners believe will lead to irreparable environmental damage.
“The campaigners face unprecedented hurdles. They are not allowed to campaign and share information among the residents of Brest,” local human rights activist Raman Kisliak said.
Meanwhile, nearly 37,000 signatures against the construction of the plant were sent to the presidential administration in February.