07.10.2022

Belarus Opposition Compiling Blacklist of Officials

Belarus’s opposition leader on Thursday said she was putting together a list of law enforcement personnel responsible for beatings and arbitrary arrests for possible future prosecution.

“I urge the security forces to stop the violence and join the Belarusian people. If you do not, you will not escape a fair trial and punishment,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in a statement.

Tikhanovskaya has claimed victory in an Aug. 9 election against President Alexander Lukashenko, claiming he rigged it to further his 26-year rule.

She fled to Lithuania in the days after the vote amid unprecedented anti-government protests that have rocked the former Soviet republic.

Tikhanovskaya said she was working on the list with a team of human rights campaigners.

“We are preparing a list of those officials and law enforcement personnel who took part and are continuing to take part in police abuses.

“We will send this list to Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, EU member states and the United States. The list will be published,” she said.

The European Union is preparing sanctions later this month against those it holds responsible for rigging the vote and cracking down on protests.

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have already blacklisted Lukashenko and 29 other high-ranking officials from the Belarusian election commission, ministries and police.

Belarus Opposition Lawyer Detained by ‘Masked Men’

One of the last remaining members of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council at large, lawyer Maxim Znak, was detained by masked men on Wednesday, his colleagues said.

Znak, who had worked as a lawyer for jailed presidential hopeful Viktor Babaryko, had been due to participate in a video call but did not show up, instead sending the word “masks” to the group, Babaryko’s press service said.

It said a witness had also seen Znak, 39, being led down the street near his offices by several men in civilian clothes and wearing masks.

Along with Svetlana Alexievich, a 72-year-old Nobel Prize-winning author, Znak was the last of the seven members of the Council’s governing presidium to remain free.

Others have been detained or forced to leave Belarus, in an intensifying crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime over a disputed election.

Znak’s apparent detention came a day after the most prominent opposition figure still in Belarus, Maria Kolesnikova, was detained at the Ukrainian border after she prevented authorities from expelling her by tearing up her passport and jumping out of a car.

The Coordination Council was set up to ensure a peaceful transfer of power after main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya rejected Lukashenko’s claim to have been re-elected to a sixth term in an Aug. 9 vote.

The disputed election has sparked the biggest anti-government demonstrations of Lukashenko’s 26-year rule, with tens of thousands taking to the streets for weeks to demand he resigns.

Lukashenko’s security services have hit back with waves of arrests, deadly violence against protesters and a campaign of intimidation and expulsion against opposition leaders.

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