Arrests are piling up in Belarus, where the regime is far from changing its position in the face of protest. The authorities announced Monday that several hundred people were being held in custody near the new Sunday opposition demonstration, which seeks to push President Alexander Lukashenko to leave.
“In total, more than 700 people have been taken into custody for violating the law on mass events and before their offenses are examined in court,” the spokeswoman for the ministry said in a statement. Interior, Olga Tchemodanova.
According to the Belarusian human rights organization Viasna, at least 1,200 people were arrested during the demonstration, which the police quickly dispersed using stun grenades and tear gas.
Opposition figures taking refuge abroad
On Monday, opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said he had met with EU ambassadors and called for further economic sanctions against Belarusian state-owned enterprises and state-linked banks.
The Europeans have already sanctioned Alexander Lukashenko, his son Viktor and several dozen members of their entourage and senior Belarusian officials. They brandished the threat of new sanctions after the death of an opponent, who died after his arrest.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa is a refugee abroad, like almost all of the opposition figures who have not been imprisoned. It is also abroad, in Poland, that two Belarusian bloggers, Stépan Poutilo and Roman Protassevich, currently reside, hosts of the Telegram channel NEXTA Live which partly coordinates the protest against Alexander Lukashenko.
Thousands of arrests, four dead, detainees tortured
On Monday, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned the Polish charge d’affaires in Minsk to inform him that Belarus had requested the extradition of the two bloggers accused by the Belarusian authorities of “extremist” activities.
At the end of October, the Belarusian justice had already placed this Telegram channel on the list of “extremist” resources, accusing it of “organizing and making public calls for the implementation of massive unrest”.
Since the start of the protest against Alexander Lukashenko, 66 years old and in power since 1994, thousands of people have been arrested, at least four have died and dozens of others have denounced torture and violence during their detention.
Supported by Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko refuses to leave power and has only mentioned vague constitutional reforms in an attempt to calm the protest. Monday, the Belarusian president assured to have agreed to “transfer 70 to 80% of the powers of the president to the Parliament, to the government and to other structures” in favor of hypothetical reforms of which nothing is known.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr