Belarus: mass searches target journalists and activists

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Minsk | Multiple searches targeted twenty journalists, association and union activists in Belarus on Tuesday, as part of an investigation into the 2020 protest movement repressed by the authorities.

The country has been the scene for months of unprecedented protests against the re-election in August of President Alexander Lukashenko, amid accusations of massive electoral fraud.

The Belarusian regime responded with waves of mass arrests, police violence and the arrests or exile of the main figures of the protest movement.

Police carried out another round of searches on 22 people on Tuesday, including the president of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Bastounts, union officials and human rights activists, according to the Viasna defense center. human rights whose premises were also targeted.

According to the Belarusian Investigative Committee, responsible for criminal investigations in the country, these raids come within the framework of its investigation into the financing and organization of “actions seriously undermining public order”.

Lukashenko said last week to have defeated a foreign “Blitzkrieg” and opponents against his regime, a reference to the protest.

Many media and NGOs have also been targeted by the repression.

According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, 477 journalists were arrested last year in the country, and several of them are targeted by criminal investigations.

Two correspondents from Belsat television, based in Poland, whose trial began last week and is due to resume on Tuesday, risk three years in prison for having, according to the authorities, “seriously disturbing public order”.