MIL OSI – Source: Viasna Belarus Human Rights Center in English – Press Release/Statement
Headline: KGB closes rioting case, ‘armed group’ charges in place
Investigative Committee building in Minsk. Photo: minsknews.by
Minsk, 16 June. The Investigative Committee of Belarus has taken over the criminal case of alleged creation of an illegal armed group, which was initially opened by the State Security Committee (KGB), BelaPAN said quoting the Investigative Committee spokesperson.
“The Investigative Committee continues working to establish all the circumstances of the illegal activities of persons involved in the case”, he said.
Meanwhile, the KGB is said to have dropped the charges of preparing riots (Part 3, Art. 293 of the Criminal Code).
The KGB detained dozens of people after President Lukashenka said on March 21 that ‘militants are preparing provocation using weapons.’ The State Security Committee then opened a criminal case against over 30 people, including former activists of the White Legion group (the organization ceased to exist more than 15 years ago), an officially registered club called Patriot and the Young Front opposition movement.
Later, 20 persons involved in the case faced an additional charge under Article 287 of the Criminal Code (creation of an illegal armed group).
Some persons were then released on own recognizance, charges against others were dropped. According to human rights defenders, 14 people are currently in detention awaiting trial in the case.
On June 13, Valery Vakulchyk, chairman of the KGB, told reporters that it was premature to talk about whether the White Legion case could eventually reach the court.
“It is premature to talk about these issues. The fact is that the investigation is unbiased in assessing the problems that we have,” he said. “You know very well that the charges are serious, but when there was no evidence or those who are innocent, all the charges were dropped. And this work is done to unbiasedly deal with it.”