Concern over Ongoing Harassment of Viasna Human Rights Centre in Minsk

Chairwoman Hautala has received with great alarm the news of yet another search at the Viasna Human Rights Centre in Minsk and a brief arrest of the Centre’s President, Mr Ales Bialitski, on 17th of January. The Centre was raided previously on 20th of December[:] when also ten members of the organisation were arrested, only to be released the following day.


This appears to be continuation of the crackdown and harassment of civil society, that the authorities have intensified since the aftermath of the stolen elections on 19th of December. With regards Viasna Centre, the intention seems to be also to prevent them from analysing the elections; during the previous raid the police effectively stopped the organisation’s staff from to analysing the information they had gathered from 600 election monitors present in Belarus.


This time the premises of Viasna Centre were searched on 17th of January by three KGB officers. The search warrant they had presented was related to the unrest that followed the elections. In the previous raid the police confiscated documents and a computer, this time another computer was confiscated.


It is understood that President of the Centre, Mr Bialitski was arrested in this context too. It is, however, unclear what he was standing accused of. In the outset it is thus very difficult to consider this arrest as anything else than arbitrary and intended solely to prevent him from doing his human rights work.