The leader of the Belarusian opposition group Malady Front (Young Front) and two of his associates have been detained in the southeastern region of Homel amid an ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy groups and activists by authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Relatives of Dzyanis Urbanovich told RFE/RL on August 27 that the trio, which also included Vital Tryhubau and Syarhey Matskoyts, was arrested a day earlier in the town of Vetsy as the men were at a coffee house.
Crisis In Belarus
Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.
The relatives added that Urbanovich told them by phone that he was being detained for at least 72 hours on a charge of "taking part in mass disorder" in the city of Mazyr last August when thousands of people demonstrated across the country against the official results of a presidential election that handed victory to Lukashenka.
Tryhubau and Matskoyts are being held separately on unknown charges, Urbanovich told relatives.
The ongoing crackdown started after the August 2020 presidential election awarded Lukashenka a sixth term, sparking an unprecedented wave of protests amid allegations the vote was rigged.
Mass protests against Lukashenka were met with the heavy-handed detention of tens of thousands of people. Much of the opposition leadership has been jailed or forced into exile.
Several protesters have been killed and thousands arrested during mass demonstrations demanding Lukashenka's resignation. There have also been credible reports of torture in the crackdown.
Belarusian authorities have also shut down several nongovernmental organizations and media outlets to silence dissent.