BERASTSE -- Two leading Belarusian activists have been charged with verbally insulting police, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
The two are members of the branch in the western town of Berastse of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democratic party (BKhD).
Zmitser Shurkhay, who is a BKhD coordinator, and Ales Charkashin, who heads the BKhD's organizing committee in Berastse, were detained on December 15 while touring the region in preparation for a BKhD party congress on December 17.
Shurkhay told RFE/RL by phone from the police station that regular and traffic police flagged them down and told them that their car resembles one that hit a man in Minsk.
A third BKhD member, Viktar Chaykouski, told RFE/RL that although Charkashin and Shurkhay were taken to a police station in connection with that traffic accident, they were formally charged with insulting the police by using vulgar words and phrases.
"It looks as though the court will give the guys several days in jail in order to prevent their participation in the upcoming party congress. They usually do that to our people on the eve of a congress," Chaykouski said.
Meanwhile, the authorities in the eastern Belarusian city of Vitsebsk warned activists today of the possible consequences of holding an unsanctioned mass gathering.
Opposition activist Alyaksey Haurutsikau told RFE/RL he and his colleague Yan Dzyarzhautsau were summoned on December 16 to the Vitsebsk Oblast prosecutor's office, where they were warned about possible consequences of convening such gatherings.
"They warned us that we may [have to] pay significant fines or even be jailed for several days if we hold an unsanctioned demonstration," Haurutsikau told RFE/RL.
The activists applied to the Vitsebsk municipal council earlier this month for permission to hold a mass gathering and march in the city on December 19 to mark the first anniversary of the protests in Minsk against the official results of that day's presidential ballot, in which incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was reelected for a further term.
Hundreds of the protesters were detained and/or beaten. Several of them, including some former presidential candidates, are now serving prison terms.
The municipal council rejected the application on December 14.
The Vitsebsk Oblast prosecutor's office also summoned another opposition activist, Khrystafor Zhalyapau. Haurutsikau told RFE/RL that Zhalyapau is currently out of town, but will be back on December 19.
Read more in Belarusian here