On Sunday, 7 June, pickets on collecting signatures for alternative presidential candidates – Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Viktor Babariko, Valery Tsepkalo and Sergey Cherechen – took place in Minsk. According to volunteers, about 1,300 people gathered, according to journalists – about 800.
Human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, medical workers and ordinary Belarusians – were arrested for having participated in peaceful protests and pickets. Among them were co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Pavel Sevyarynets.
People were detained not only in Minsk, but also in Grodno and other Belarusian cities. Most of them were detaimed on charges of violating the procedure for holding mass events.
Most of the incidents followed the arrest of well-known blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky on 6 May. The arrest sparked protests across the country in which demonstrators demanded his release. While in detention the activist announced his intention to run for president.
His registration was declined however, a decision which sparked new protests. On 29 May he was arrested again in Grodno. On 3 June, a search was conducted at Tikhanovsky’s cottage and his office, where investigators reportedly found $900,000.
According to TUT.BY sources, the search lasted from 3 pm to 3 am, however, investigators found the money only at about 2 am during the third search. Recall that the Central Election Commission registered 15 of 55 initiative groups.
To officially become a presidential candidate, each of them will have to collect 100,000 signatures until 19 June. The names of the candidates will be announced in mid July, the election in Belarus will be held on 9 August. Alexander Lukashenko is planning to run for a sixth term.
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