Picks of the week
On May 6, police in Mahilioŭ arrested critical vlogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who runs a YouTube channel called “Country for Life”. Tsikhanouski was expected to meet with his subscribers. The following day, Interior Ministry’s spokesperson said that the blogger was sent to serve 15 days of detention over an illegal protesting conviction he received in January.
The same evening, Tsikhanouski’s associates staged protests in Minsk, Hrodna and Mahilioŭ to urge the authorities to release the blogger. Nineteen protesters were arrested in Minsk.
Similar demonstrations were held in Homieĺ and Hrodna on May 7 and 8.
On May 6, police officers arrested another famous vlogger, Siarhei Piatrukhin. He was held shortly after he publicly announced his support for Siarhei Tsikhanouski.
On May 8, courts across Belarus convicted Tsikhanouski’s supporters of illegal protesting. Some of them were sentenced to short terms of detention, others were fined.
At a court hearing in Mahilioŭ, which sent three people to prison for up to 15 days, police officers argued that the protesters were “speaking negatively about the current government” and the “situation with the coronavirus”.
Police officers also detained Aliaksandr Burakou, journalist and activist working with the mspring.online human rights website based in Mahilioŭ. He was charged with illegal protesting, which is said to be linked to a series of protests in support of vlogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski. Burakou’s colleagues say, however, that he did not take part in the protests but merely monitored the gatherings.
Police have opened a criminal investigation targeting Andrei Miadzvedzeu, journalist and opposition activist in Rečyca. Miadzvedzeu is suspected of insulting chief editor of a local government-owned newspaper.
The charge is said to be linked to a negative comment the activist left on VKontakte social network. The feedback related to the newspaper’s aggressive reaction to the news of a local opposition activist sowing PPE for medical workers.
“I believe that this is part of a wider campaign of pressure on activists and bloggers — on everyone who has a different view of the situation in the country and is doing something to change it,” the activist said.