MINSK (dpa-AFX) – Six months after the start of the mass protests in Belarus, there have been nationwide raids on journalists and human rights activists. The aim is to determine how the protests were financed in late summer and autumn, the state investigators announced on Tuesday in the news channel Telegram. According to various media reports, there were house searches with individual arrests in all major cities in the country.
The Wesna human rights center was also affected. Telephones and equipment were confiscated, the organization said. The activist Valentin Stefanowitsch said: “That is the logic of the repression – at the beginning you come to the politicians, the activists and then to the journalists and human rights activists.”
There were also raids on the Belarusian Union of Journalists. Its chairman, Andrej Bastunez, was taken away by the police, but was later released, it said. The organization repeatedly criticized the actions of the authorities against media representatives.
The authoritarian leadership had repeatedly claimed that the demonstrations after the presidential election in August had been funded from abroad. For weeks, tens of thousands of people had protested regularly against the elections, which were viewed as falsified. Protesters were arrested en masse. Many complained of police violence. Recently there have been minor protests in residential areas.
The opposition and western states do not recognize the elected leader Alexander Lukashenko as president. The 66-year-old has ruled the ex-Soviet republic since 1994./ast/DP/mis