Police in Belarus have raided the offices of opposition members as part of a crackdown on dissenters who revolted against the Government in 2020.
At the time, the country experienced the biggest wave of protests in its history in response to President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s election victory that year, which the opposition and the West regarded as illegitimate.
The dictatorial regime retaliated with force. Approximately 35,000 people were detained by police and thousands were physically assaulted, with least four people reportedly killed.
On November 28, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, head of the pro-democratic opposition and leading candidate against Lukashenko in 2020, said on X that “Lukashenko’s thugs brutally raided private properties” of her colleagues and their offices.
“This savage act is the regime’s revenge on those who refuse to surrender. They are hunted as if they were terrorists, but the real criminals are those who threaten their families and friends.”
Today, in one of the most large-scale & barbaric attacks since 2021, Lukashenka's thugs brutally raided private properties of my colleagues from our Office, @rada_vision, @CabinetBelarus & @nau_belarus, including my press-secretary Anna Krasulina & my Deputy @PavelLatushka.… pic.twitter.com/TSHYxDeVzs
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) November 28, 2023
Pavel Latushka, a former government minister who switched to the opposition and subsequently fled Belarus, told Associated Press authorities searched his home in Minsk, as well as the homes of hundreds of opposition activists and their families across the country.
He claimed the raids were carried out by police armed with automatic rifles who broke down doors to enter the premises.
According to the Belarus Investigative Committee, they were part of a criminal probe into the operations of the Co-ordination Council, a non-governmental body created by Tsikhanouskaya and designed to enable a democratic transfer of power in the country.
Members of the group included names such as Belarus exile Svetlana Alexievich, the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, and Ales Bialiatski, a prominent human rights champion in the country and a 2022 Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
The Government claims members of the Co-ordination Council are “extremists”.
They are charged with high treason and conspiring to seize power. The Government’s Investigative Committee stated it would seek the seizure of council members’ apartments and other assets.
Members of that committee have been targeted with sanctions imposed by the European Union, the US and Switzerland since the crackdown against the opposition in 2020.
I call on the international community to reject the #Belarus regime's fake elections planned for 2024. It is just another act of fraud. With your support & solidarity, we will build a free & democratic country where Belarusians can vote in elections that truly deserve this name. pic.twitter.com/hEzpLh3zfw
— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya) November 29, 2023