Yesterday, on 2 March, mass arrests of administrators and members of local chats and thematic telegram channels took place in Minsk. The residents of Kamennaya Gorka neighbourhood, Matusevich Street and members of the “Volny Prafsayuz BDU” reported about detentions.
The deregistered human rights centre Vesna reported that at least 17 people were detained on 2 March in Minsk. “We also received information that there were at least 36 people in the Investigative Committee Office yesterday, but we cannot verify this information yet,” the centre added.
The “Lists of Detainees” Telegram channel reports about more than 20 detainees for yesterday. In particular, it mentions the name of Olga Tokarchuk, a YouTube blogger with more than 30,000 subscribers. According to her mother, Olga called her in the morning and said that she was being detained. She added that the reason for her detention was “an insult to an official”. It has not yet been reported which article she is charged with.
It is also known that two students of the master’s degree program in history – Alexander Parshenkov and Alexander Novikov – were taken from the dormitory of the Belarusian State University. The friends are members of the Free Trade Union of Students and live in the same room. Parshenkov was released on the same day. He said that the GUBOPiK employees searched their room and gadgets and officially warned Parshenkov about the consequences of participating in unauthorized mass events.
Alexander Novikov, a master’s student at the Faculty of History of the Belarusian State University, was detained and taken to a detention centre on Okrestin Street. He was accused of “taking part in unauthorized mass events in September and October 2020,” and distributing information about the movement of police transport and employees “to the well-known Telegram channel, recognized as extremist.” Today Alexander was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest.
Another name on the list of detainees is Ruslan Litvin. According to his wife, Ruslan was detained early in the morning on 2 March “for insulting a police officer”. He allegedly left a comment under some publication on social media. He is charged with Art. 369 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus [insulting a representative of the authorities – Ed.], but, as his wife says, Ruslan was told he will be released home before the trial.
According to information sent to the Vesna human rights centre, security forces broke into Marina Savenok’s apartment, she was handcuffed and her apartment searched. Another detained Minsker is Ekaterina Kornievich. As her husband said, Ekaterina is charged with Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus [organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them].
In addition, Vesna mentions Anatoly Taptunov, an EPAM employee. The IT company doesn’t comment on the incident. Many people were detained in the Kamennaya Gorka neighbourhood: Konstantin Kartashov and Elena Kartashova (Shimanskaya); Elena and Evgeny Sobolko; Olga and Dmitry Spisak. The reason for the detention is still unclear.
According to the subscribers of the Motolko Pomogi Telegram channel [declared extremist on 29 March – Ed.], several residents living on Lyutsinskaya Street were detained too. “Lyutsinskaya, 15, at 8 am, three young men came to active neighbours. First, there was one in civilian clothes and a mask standing in front of the windows, then he held the door to the entrance and two more entered. Not 100% sure, but everything indicates that they are law enforcers. All the neighbours’ children and the dog were taken away, the smallest was crying.”
The Investigative Committee is still to comment on the matter.