Protests and Arrests in Belarus: Citizens demand to have the choice at the elections
15 July , 14:40
In the world
Photo: tut.by
Mass protests are taking place in Minsk and other Belarusian cities. Citizens took to the streets because the CEC refused to register two alternative candidates: Viktor Babariko and Valery Tsepkalo. Riot police (OMON) beat the protesters and shoved them into police vans. There were 250 protesters yesterday.

Some were taken with a fighting...

Yelena Ivanova

As expected, alternative candidates Viktor Babariko and Valery Tsepkalo were not registered. As was clear already in June, voters did not like it. People took to the streets of cities. Protests began last night in Minsk and other Belarusian cities. At 7 p.m., citizens lined up in a “chain of solidarity”, passing cars honked the demonstrators, people in chains clapped their hands. Only Mogilev and Grodno did without detentions. In Minsk, Brest and Gomel police beat and jailed participants. Eyewitnesses report clashes between protesters and police officers (video is here).

First, auto-zakaz appeared in Minsk, then people began to gather small groups at the beginning of Independence Avenue and moved to Yakub Kolas Square. Belarusian media report that in Minsk the arrests began almost immediately, people were stuffed in full backfill, one police car door even fell off the door. Around 9 p.m., a fierce skirmish broke out between the protesters and the police. People shouted “Shame!” “People are detained very harshly - when someone tries to run away, they hook him under his knees, the person falls onto the asphalt. They can strike with an elbow in the face, wring their hands”, - the TUT.BY correspondent reported from the scene. Far East reports that riot police and plainclothes security officers - the so-called “tikhari” - beat people with batons, kicked and punched them (video here). In the police station the detainees were kneeling and wringing hands behind their heads. When asked about the appropriateness of such methods of detention, the deputy minister of internal affairs of the republic, Alexander Barsukov, threatened journalists with arrest if they did not leave and stop filming. Journalists were also detained, but then released.

No one could name the exact number of protesters, but judging by the photographs (here), the video (here) and the number of those arrested there were several thousand across the country. In Minsk alone, according to human rights activists of Vesna, 177 people were arrested. Data is constantly being replenished.

Authorities say riots provoked from abroad. The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported on social networks: “A number of Internet resources and users who are located outside the Republic of Belarus urge citizens to gather on the streets of our country for unauthorized actions”.

Meanwhile, human rights activists published another weekly report on the results of monitoring the presidential election. “The number of political prisoners in the country has reached 24 people. The number of detainees since the start of the election campaign amounted to at least 703 people, of which 129 were subjected to administrative arrests and 252 were fined”, - the report said. Observers say that the presidential campaign in Belarus does not meet the standards for fair democratic elections. There is no equal competition in the country. Two candidates - Victor Babariko and Sergey Tikhonovsky - are in prison and have already been recognized as prisoners of conscience. Alexander Lukashenko launched an actual election campaign using state media and the vertical of power. The company is against the backdrop of ongoing repression.

Yesterday, the Belarusian CEC refused to issue registration certificates to Banker Viktor Babariko, who was considered Lukashenko’s main competitor. A case has been opened against him regarding tax evasion and legalization of illegal income. Valery Tsepkalo was also denied registration. Opposition blogger Sergei Tikhonovsky was planted back in early May.

Valery Tsepkalo, an unregistered candidate for the presidency of Belarus, a graduate of the MGIMO of the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a former ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the United States, the creator of the Belarusian High-Tech Park, commented on what is happening in the republic on air of Echo of Moscow.

- We are still ahead in fact. - sure Tsepkalo. - And civic activity will only increase now because, as a matter of fact, people can personally observe how the authorities are trying to merge these elections. But, I think that this time they will not succeed. We will be able to show how it falsifies the elections, how it tries to circumvent the Constitution, circumvent the electoral law. And I think that if earlier everyone had a vague idea of this, then this time everything will be obvious to everyone.

Leading - Valery, please tell me, the first, as I understand it, refused to Victor Babariko. Did you already understand at this moment that you are the next person to be refused?

V. Tsepkalo - Of course. Because this was the logic of power, that is, to remove all the main competitors - to remove Sergey Tikhanovsky, to remove Viktor Babariko, in various, though true ways, and then to remove me. That is, the main candidates for the presidency of Belarus, which were the highest rated, which, indeed, could easily defeat Lukashenko, he removed them, leaving only the wife of Sergei Tikhanovsky, because her husband is now held hostage. There were the threats against her children. That is, he believes that, in principle, he can cope with such an opponent. A real man, a real hero. He removed three men and left one woman whose husband is held hostage.