The leader of the Belarusian opposition group Malady Front (Young Front) and two of his staff were arrested in the southeastern Gomel region, while authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues to crack down on pro-democracy groups and activists.
Relatives of Dzyanis Urbanovich told RFE / RL on August 27 that the trio, which included Vital Tryhubau and Syarhey Matskoyts, had been arrested the day before in the town of Vetsy while the men were in a coffee shop.
Read our current coverage when the Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka increased pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown on demonstrators and the opposition following what was widely considered to be a fraudulent election in August 2020.
Relatives added that Urbanovich had telephoned them to say that he was being held for at least 72 hours on charges of “participating in mass riots” in Mazyr city last August when thousands of people across the country opposed the official results of the presidential election, which helped Lukashenka to victory.
Tryhubau and Matskoyts are being held separately on unknown charges, Urbanovich told relatives.
The ongoing crackdown began after Lukashenka awarded a sixth term in the August 2020 presidential election and sparked an unprecedented wave of protests amid allegations that the vote had been rigged.
Mass protests against Lukashenka were faced with the gross detention of tens of thousands of people. Much of the opposition leadership was imprisoned or forced into exile.
Several demonstrators were killed and thousands arrested in mass demonstrations calling for Lukashenka’s resignation. There were also credible reports of torture during the raid.
The Belarusian authorities have also shut down several non-governmental organizations and media outlets to silence dissenting views.