KYIV – Belarusian safety forces searched the homes of journalists and human rights activists in a number of cities throughout the nation on Tuesday, intensifying a crackdown on mass protests in opposition to veteran President Alexander Lukashenko.
Police searched the homes of 25 members of the unbiased Belarusian Affiliation of Journalists (BAJ) and the human rights group Viasna-96, Viasna-96 stated.
The authorities in a press release related the searches to an investigation into what they stated was the financing of the protests by “organisations positioning themselves as human rights defenders”.
Greater than 33,000 folks have been detained in a violent crackdown following an election final August that Lukashenko’s opponents say was blatantly rigged at hand the president a sixth time period in workplace since 1994. He denies electoral fraud.
The crackdown has prompted new Western sanctions however Lukashenko has refused to resign, relying on diplomatic and monetary help from conventional ally Russia, which sees Belarus as a buffer state in opposition to the European Union and NATO.
“They’re on the lookout for ‘criminals’ amongst those that assist political prisoners and write concerning the wrestle of Belarusians for freedom,” wrote exiled opposition determine Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya concerning the raids.
“They search for ‘criminals’ of their dad and mom’ homes. However in search of criminals, they need to look into the places of work of the riot police, the GUBOPiK (inside ministry directorate) and all these accountable for the repression.”
The raids got here on the identical day as the continued trial of two journalists from the Poland-based tv channel Belsat in Minsk, who withstand three years in jail for reporting dwell from the protests.
Lukashenko held a two-day “Folks’s Meeting” final week to debate political reforms, which his opponents dismissed as a sham train to maintain him in energy.