The police have dropped charges against Ryhor Kastusyow, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) who was a candidate in last year’s presidential election.
The 54-year-old Kastusyow was accused of instigating “mass disorder” in connection with a post-election protest staged in Minsk on December 19, 2010.
As Mr. Kastusyow told BelaPAN on Saturday, he received two letters from the police, which said that the criminal proceedings against him had been dropped, and that the ban on his foreign travel had been lifted.
According to Mr. Kastusyow, the dropping of the criminal cases against him, United Civic Party Chairman Antol Lyabedzka, journalist Natallya Radzina and opposition activists Aleh Korban and Ales Arastovich, as well as the earlier pardoning by Alyaksandr Lukashenka of nine convicted post-election protesters suggest that the Belarusian authorities try to improve their reputation in the eyes of the West and Russia amid the deteriorating state of the national economy and a drastic fall in the living standards of the country’s population.
Mr. Kastusyow pointed out that the criminal charges against him and the other protesters were unfounded and politically motivated, and that the breaking of door and window glass in the House of Government in Independence Square during the December 19 protest should have been punished as a minor civil offense at the most.
Mr. Kastusyow was arrested in a police crackdown on the protest, but he was freed the following day after Belarusian Television (Channel One) broadcast an interview with him.
In that interview, Mr. Kastusyow told Belarusian Television that he regretted the disturbances that took place at the center of Minsk on the night of December 19. "I would like everything to have been in a different, peaceful manner," he said.