Today, June 19, Minsk Pershamayski District Court has ruled to arrest for 15 days a presidential contender, MFF Chairman Yuri Hubarevich “for participating in an unauthorized mass event” on June 7. A large picket to collect signatures for alternative candidates took place on that day in a square in Minsk. Hubarevich was arrested virtually for appealing to Belarusians to support him with their signatures.
The MFF considers such a decision a legal lawlessness and a continuation of pressure on alternative presidential contenders.
Detained earlier also were presidential candidate Viktar Babarika, head of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative group, vlogger Siarhey Tsikhanouski, dozens of members of the initiative groups, and a number of politicians, activists, and bloggers. Participants of the election campaign received threats, and have been unjustifiably and arbitrarily detained and fined.
All this indicates that the election campaign is taking place in an atmosphere of fear and pressure on independent candidates, members of their teams, and people who express their opinions at legal pickets to collect signatures. However, this does not prevent Belarusians from joining the long-distance queues of solidarity, as happened on June 18.
In these circumstances, the MFF demands that the authorities:
— immediately stop persecuting political opponents,
— immediately release the arrested people,
— respect the principle of the rule of law,
— ensure equal political competition at the elections,
— punish officials responsible for the inhumane conditions of detention at Minsk Offenders Isolation Centre and other similar institutions.
The MFF appeals to democratic presidential contenders to show their solidarity with the detained and arrested participants of the campaign, and to express an unequivocal position on the inadmissibility of such behaviour on the part of the regime.
The MFF calls on the international community to support politicians and civil society activists in Belarus who find themselves under severe pressure and repression by the authorities today. We welcome the words of solidarity expressed by the EU leadership.
We are grateful to all Belarusians for participating in solidarity actions, including on June 18 in Minsk, and call for further support and cooperation. Together, we are able to change the situation, and Belarus will become democratic!