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Belarusian Opposition Activist Trials To Start


A riot policeman chases an opposition protester during demonstrations in Minsk in December.
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