Authorities confirm Belarusian attack on opposition-run ‘people’s embassy’

  • Belarusian authorities confirmed on Wednesday dozens more raids targeting opposition figures suspected of so-called “extremist” activities.
  • The latest crackdown targets efforts to create “people’s embassies” by opponents of Alexander Lukashenko’s authoritarian government.
  • These “embassies” are designed to counter Belarusian state propaganda in EU member states as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and Canada.

Belarusian authorities They said on Wednesday they had launched dozens of raids targeting those suspected of “extremist” activities, in a new effort by the political opposition to establish “people’s embassies” abroad.

The raids are the latest in a crackdown on dissent by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko’s government. Belarus’s Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigative agency, said its agents had searched the apartments and offices of those suspected of being involved.

The Belarusian opposition announced the establishment of “people’s embassies” in 24 countries to represent its interests and counter Belarusian state propaganda, including European Union Member States, UK, Canada, Australia and Brazil.

Belarusian independent journalist on trial in alleged ‘extremism’ case

Spokesperson of the Investigative Committee Sialhai Kabakovich said that the participants in the establishment of the “pseudo embassy” tried to carry out an “information campaign aimed at discrediting our country” and hindered the contacts of Belarusian diplomats with foreign officials and public organizations, undermining the the country’s sovereignty. Safety.

The Investigative Committee said that more than 100 Belarusians accused of participating in the operation may face charges of participating in “extremist activities”, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and the confiscation of assets.

Viasna human rights The group said earlier this month that at least 4,690 people have been convicted on politically motivated charges since the August 2020 presidential election that re-elected Lukashenko for a fifth term and triggered mass protests.

The authorities responded with a crackdown. More than 35,000 people were arrested, thousands were beaten in custody by police, and dozens of NGOs and independent media outlets were shut down.

There are currently more than 1,400 political prisoners in Belarus, including Viasna founder and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski.

Belarus’s exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya left the country under pressure from authorities after challenging Lukashenko in the 2020 vote. She said recent attacks on opposition activists reflected Lukashenko’s fears.

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“The new wave of raids and crackdowns in Belarus proves that Lukashenko is terrified of the solidarity and support that leaders and politicians from democracies around the world are offering us,” Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press. “The raids , arrests and trials are taking place on the conveyor belt of Belarus, but hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have fled abroad, and each of them can become a ‘people’s ambassador’ to safeguard the country’s democratic future.”

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By Ali Raza

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