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A riot policeman chases an opposition protester during demonstrations in Minsk in December.
MINSK/VITEBSK -- The first Belarusian activist charged with organizing mass disorder during postelection demonstrations in December will face trial on February 17, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Minsk-based human rights center Vyasna told journalists today the trial of Vasil Parfyankou will begin at 10 a.m. in a Frunze district court. The trials of some of the hundreds of other activists facing similar charges are expected to follow.

Parfyankou was opposition presidential candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu's campaign manager. He was arrested on January 4 and charged with organizing and participating in mass disorder on December 19, the day of the election.

Opposition presidential candidates and their supporters gathered on Minsk's Independence Square on December 19 to protest official election results that pronounced incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka the runaway winner.

The demonstrators insist the election was rigged.

Some presidential candidates and their supporters were severely beaten and hundreds were put in a pretrial detention center.

Most were released within weeks but ordered not to leave Minsk until the investigations were completed.

Three former opposition presidential candidates remain in detention.

Meanwhile, KGB officers searched the premises of the nongovernmental group European Club in the eastern city of Vitebsk today.

Khrytsafor Zhalyapau, the owner of the private house used by the group as its headquarters, was summoned to KGB offices earlier today for questioning.

He was later escorted back to his house by the KGB, and the officers who accompanied Parfyankou searched his house. They declined to say what they were looking for but showed a warrant saying the search was being conducted in connection with the investigations into the December 19 protests.

Read more in Belarusian here and here
Kouhyar Goudarzi says some relatives of those arrested were beaten, many detained.
Some relatives of demonstrators who were arrested during protest rallies in Tehran on February 14 have been beaten by special police units, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports, citing a rights blogger. .

Rights activist Kouhyar Goudarzi told Radio Farda the beatings took place in front of Police Station No. 148 on Enghelab Avenue, where rally was held, and in front of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office. The beatings were carried out during the night from February 14 to 15 and again on February 15.

Goudarzi also said officials of the revolutionary court read off a list of some 1,500 names of those arrested during the protest and said they had all been transferred to Tehran's Evin prison.

That figure could not be independently confirmed.

So far, other witnesses have spoken only of "dozens" of arrests during the February 14 protests.

Goudarzi said an unknown number of people had also been arrested in the cities of Shiraz, Esfahan, and Tabriz.

Goudarzi, a journalist for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, was himself released several weeks ago after spending a year in jail on charges of heresy, propaganda against the regime, and participating in illegal gatherings. He is a past winner of the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award from the U.S. National Press Club.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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