More people declared suspects in mass riot case
Three more people have been added to the list of suspects in a mass riot case instituted by the Minsk police over the December 19 post-election demonstration in the Belarusian capital city, according to the Vyasna human rights group.
Those are Dzmitry Novik and Nikita Likhavid, who are said to have attended the anti-Lukashenka protest, and Syarhey Martsalyow, the campaign chief of former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich. Mr. Likhavid currently serves a 15-day jail term in the Zhodzina detention center. Mr. Martsalyow was arrested after being taken off a Minsk to Warsaw train at the Brest station by Belarusian border guards on the night between December 22 and 23.
The list of the suspects features seven former presidential rivals of Alyaksandr Lukashenka – Ryhor Kastusyow, Alyaksey Mikhalevich, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, Vital Rymashewski, Andrey Sannikaw, Mikalay Statkevich and Dzmitry Uss. All of them, except for Messrs. Kastusyow and Uss, are held in the KGB detention center. The two have made a written pledge not to leave Minsk, but the whereabouts of Mr. Uss have not been known since the end of the last week.
Among the suspects are also campaign aides, including Mr. Statkevich`s ally Alyaksandr Arastovich, Mr. Sannikaw’s allies Dzmitry Bandarenka, Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw and Uladzimir Kobets, Mr. Nyaklyayew’s aides Syarhey Vaznyak, Andrey Dzmitryew and Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Mr. Ramanchuk’s aides Aleh Korban, Anatol Lyabedzka and Anatol Pawlaw and Mr. Rymashewski’s aide Pavel Sevyarynets.
The list also includes a deputy chair of the Malady Front opposition youth group, Anastasiya Palazhanka; former police officer Alyaksandr Klaskowski; Mr. Sannikaw’s wife, prominent journalist Iryna Khalip; and the editor of the Charter’97 news site, Natallya Radzina.
The police instituted the criminal proceedings under Parts One and Two of the Criminal Code’s Article 293 that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years for the organization of mass riots and a prison sentence of between three and eight years for participation in them.
Under Belarus’ laws, the period of detention without charge may be extended to up to 10 days.
On Monday, KGB officers searched the apartments of Dzmitry Bandarenka, Uladzimir Kobets and Andrey Sannikaw’s elder son, Kanstantsin.
Hundreds of people were grabbed by police during and after the violent dispersal of the mass anti-Lukashenka demonstration in central Minsk. The most of them were consequently jailed.
The governments of many European Union member states and the United States, as well as top-ranking officials of the EU and other international organizations have condemned the police crackdown on peaceful protesters.