Minsk police release list of suspects in mass riot case

The press office of the Minsk city police department on December 23 issued a list of suspects held in the KGB detention center...


The press office of the Minsk city police department on December 23 issued a list of suspects held in the KGB detention center in connection with the mass riot case that the police instituted over Sunday’s post-election demonstration in the Belarusian capital city, BelaPAN said.

The list features five former presidential rivals of Alyaksandr Lukashenka - Alyaksey Mikhalevich, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, Vital Rymashewski, Andrey Sannikaw and Mikalay Statkevich.

Among the suspects are also campaign aides, including Mr. Statkevich`s ally Alyaksandr Arastovich, Mr. Sannikaw’s allies Dzmitry Bandarenka and Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw, 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.

Three more people have been declared suspects in the riot case. These are former presidential candidates Ryhor Kastusyow and Dzmitry Uss, and Mr. Sannikaw’s campaign chief, Uladzimir Kobets.

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.

When asked by BelaPAN why the 19 suspects are held in the KGB detention center within the framework of the case investigated by the Minsk city police department, a KGB officer said that the reason was, perhaps, that the KGB provided “operational support” for the case.

Under Belarus’ national laws, the period of preliminary detention without charge may be extended from three to 10 days.

Hundreds of people were grabbed by police after the violent dispersal of the mass anti-Lukashenka demonstration in Minsk on the night between December 19 and 20. The most of them were consequently jailed.

The governments of Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Slovakia and the United States and top-ranking officials of the European Union and other international organizations have condemned the police crackdown on peaceful protesters.