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Belarusian human rights activists report over 500 election-related criminal cases

The majority of cases (at least 143 known cases) have been initiated over charges of mass riots

MINSK, October 28. /TASS/. Belarusian human rights activists reported over 500 criminal cases initiated against presidential election participants, protesters and activists since the beginning of the presidential campaign earlier this year.

"Throughout almost five months since the beginning of the 2020 presidential race in Belarus, over 500 criminal cases have been initiated against race participants, campaign activists and peaceful protesters," the Vesna human rights center said on its website Wednesday.

The majority of cases (at least 143 known cases) have been initiated over charges of mass riots. Other frequently used charges were: organization or participation in group actions blatantly violating public order; resistance to law enforcement officer; and violence or threat of violence against a police officer.

Several cases have been initiated over charges of tax evasion: in particular, activists of ex-candidate Viktor Babariko's campaign were charged with this violation. Some cases have been initiated over charges of libel, disorderly conduct and other clauses of the Criminal Code.

Almost 100 political prisoners

By October 28, the human rights activists collected names of almost 390 people from different cities of Belarus, whose cases are tied to the presidential campaign or the events that followed. According to the activists, 96 people from this list qualify as political prisoners. Meanwhile, the activists state that not a single criminal case has been initiated over numerous facts of police brutality against the protesters.

The Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that over 500 criminal cases have been initiated over mass riots and consequences of protests - most of them over events in Minsk - adding that every perpetrator will be identified.

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus following the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission’s official results, incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10% of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, came in second, with 10.12% of the ballot. However, she refused to recognize the election’s outcome, and left Belarus for Lithuania. After the results of the exit polls were announced late on August 9, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between the protesters and police. The current unrest is being cheered on by the opposition’s Coordination Council, which has been beating the drum for more protests. In response, the Belarusian authorities have castigated the ongoing turmoil and demanded that these unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.