Same script as Syria: Kremlin-allied Belarus considers 'terrorism' charges against protesters

Oct 29, 2020

Prosecutors in Belarus are reportedly considering whether to bring terrorism charges against several protesters for crimes allegedly committed during the recent demonstrations against the country's Kremlin-backed dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

During an appearance on the state-owned Belarus 1 channel on Wednesday, Belarusian Prosecutor General Andrey Shved said, "There is a war going on, which over the past few weeks, has taken on radical forms - extremely radical."

Reporting the possible 'terror' charges, Russian state media outlet Sputnik quoted Shyed as saying, "Based on the well-known facts, the matter of assessing whether the actions of perpetrators constitutes as terrorism, with all the resultant consequences, is currently being decided."

According to Sputnik, more than 650 criminal cases have been opened in Belarus in connection with the opposition protests, which have continued for nearly three months, Shved added. Thousands of protesters have been arrested during the demonstrations across the country, with Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu hinting on Wednesday that Russia is considering sending forces to the allied state, under the pretext that the situation on Belarus’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, both NATO member states, is “turbulent” and that Nato “continues to build up its forward presence”.

According to Sputnik's account of events, the Belarusian opposition 'has staged regular unsanctioned protests since the August 9 presidential election that saw incumbent Alexander Lukashenko win a sixth term in office by a landslide.'

The Kremlin media outlet further noted that the opposition, 'backed by the European Union', had rejected the results of the vote, which independent observers have acknowledged saw the arrest of prominent opposition candidates and severe election irregularities, including restricted ballot access for the opposition; the absence of international observers; arrests, detentions, and intimidation of presidential candidates, along with widespread allegations of torture and intimidation of dissidents.

The latest allegations from Belarus came after Lukashenko claimed on Tuesday that the Belarusian government was encountering "threats of terrorism" after the opposition vowed to launch a general strike in the country in protest at the regime's repression of protests.