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Nationwide Raids Against Belarusian Rights Activists Continue


Police raid the offices of the Tell the Truth campaign.

Police raid the offices of the Tell the Truth campaign.

Belarusian police and security forces continued raids across the country today against human rights activists and some political analysts, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Searchs at the offices and apartments of Tell the Truth campaign activists took place on May 19 for the second consecutive day in the cities of Minsk, Mahilou, Homel, Hrodna. Police and state security officers are detaining and questioning Tell the Truth members and confiscating computers, mobiles phones, and memory sticks.

Police are telling those who are being searched that they are investigating a criminal case involving the "dissemination of false information." Dozens of activists across the country have been targeted in the raids.

Some rights activists told RFE/RL they believe the raids are connected to the presidential election slated to be held either at the end of this year or the beginning of 2011.

The Tell the Truth founder, writer Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, recently announced that he may run in the presidential election against incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Nyaklyayew, 63, is chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers.

Yuras Alejnik, a Tell the Truth activist in Minsk, told RFE/RL that he thinks the raids are part of an intimidation campaign against the group, which was formed in February. It's latest project was an effort to convince Minsk city authorities to rename the capital's Ulianauskaja Street in honor of late writer Vasil Bykau.

Nyaklyayew said the Tell the Truth campaign was created to "prompt Belarusian society to realize the real state of affairs in the country where there is little room for the truth but where there are a lot of lies."

He said the Tell the Truth campaign will give the public accurate information about the situation in the country. As part of the campaign, volunteers across the country will collect "false" information reported by the authorities. The groups findings are posted on the website zapraudu.info.

Renowned poets Ryhor Baradulin and Henadz Burawkin, artist Zinaida Bandarenka, Chornobyl researcher Henadz Hrushavy, scientist Radzim Haretski, Belarusian Association of Journalists head Zhanna Litvina, human rights activist Tatsyana Pratsko, and chessmaster Viktar Kupreychyk have given their support to the Tell the Truth campaign.
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