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Food not Bombs activists to stand trial after riot police`s raid on charity concert in Minsk


Some 15 activists of Food Not Bombs Belarus have been placed in custody after riot police stormed on Saturday evening the House of Culture of the Minsk Tractor Works ahead of a charity concert in support of the international, grassroots organization known for feeding those in need.

Around 100 young men and women were grabbed during the raid and brought to three district police stations, said human rights defender Valyantsin Stefanovich.

Most of them were allowed to go home after being fingerprinted, photographed and videoed.
Some 15 people were brought to the detention center on Akrestsina Street. They are expected to stand trial on March 26.

“The concert was due to take place at the House of Culture of the Minsk Tractor Works,” said Mr. Stefanovich. “It makes no sense to charge them with organizing an unsanctioned mass event. It is most likely that they were formally charged with ‘petty hooliganism’ for, as the tradition goes, allegedly uttering obscenities.”

The riot police raided the concert hall on the pretext that they suspected the youth of distributing and using drugs.

All young women were later freed but for Alena Dubovik. She was placed in the detention center pending trial.

According to Mr. Stefanovich, the police acted violently against those detained.

Food Not Bombs started in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in 1980 and is well known for passing out free vegetarian and vegan food to anyone who shows up to events, regardless of whether they are homeless, the working poor or just looking for some grub and company.

The group is also known for anti-war demonstrations and running seminars on poverty issues.

Its chapter in Belarus has to deal with pressure on the part of the authorities, according to local human rights defenders. Last year alone, police disrupted several events organized by the chapter to pass out food -- soup or porridge -- to those in need.

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