On March 29th, Belarusian authorities opened a probe into opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanouskaya on terrorism charges.
Belarus’ Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said in a statement that Tsikhanouskaya and several other unidentified people are suspected of attempting to stage explosions and arson attacks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk and other cities several days ago.
The Belarusian Investigative Committee also announced that the Telegram channel Nexta’s editorial board is a foreign extremist organization and has banned it in the country, the Investigative Committee said in a statement on March 27.
During last year’s mass protests Nexta became the main means of communication and actively helped the crowds of protesters organise themselves into a leaderless but high effective and mobile force of demonstrators.
“Based on all the collected physical evidence, the investigators found signs of a foreign extremist organization in their [opposition] activities. Now the Investigative Committee’s Department for Minsk has initiated the recognition of the editorial board, which was in fact established by Stepan Putilo and other individuals, as a foreign extremist organization and its ban in the Republic of Belarus,” the statement says.
Later on the same day, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko instructed to nominate for awards the police officers who helped prevent the alleged terrorist attacks.
The head of state noted that calls for the radicalization of protests have been heard from abroad lately. In this regard, he noted the work of law enforcement officers who did not allow such incidents. The President addressed special words of gratitude to the staff of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“The guys are just great: they have solved another terrorist crime. All the guys who participated in this operation must be presented with state awards. They deserve it, they protected a huge number of people who could have suffered,” Lukashenko said. “This is a good lesson for us: and for the people who are engaged in internal security, and for the people who provide the defense of our country.”
Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gennady Kazakevich told reporters that in the military town of Pechi, Borisov district, operatives of the GUBOPiK Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the force support of SOBR, detained a 35-year-old resident of the Pinsk district. The man intended to commit an alleged terrorist act in a local military unit and another one in Minsk.
“According to the GUBOPiK of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the detainee rented an apartment in the Moscow district of the capital, worked in a private company. In the Pinsk district and near Minsk, he made two improvised explosive devices. by car to the Borisov district. At the time of the crime he was detained, “- said Gennady Kazakevich.
Investigators of the State Security Committee opened a criminal case on the fact of an attempt on an act of terrorism.
The attacker maintained close ties with the infamous BYPOL initiative. It was create created by former security forces who do not support Lukashenko. I became known from its representative on the eve of the day of freedom that he received in the messenger an order to make an explosion on the territory of an internal affairs body or a military unit.
“It was this initiative, closely related to the so-called Coordination Council of Tikhanouskaya, actively urged citizens to hold illegal mass events on March 25 and warned of allegedly impending provocations by the authorities. In fact, the preparation of terrorist acts was carried out under the auspices of BYPOL,” the deputy minister explained.
Lukashenko underlined that the safety and calm of the people are of utmost importance, and no quarter will be given.
“Keep order. You have to work every day, as you did throughout the winter. Therefore, there is a result. Our people are not idiots. They can see perfectly well that someone, as they say,” is mowing money abroad “, – said the President. – It is clear who is sitting on these streams. And people do not want to be, as they say: why are you throwing us at the pitchfork, and you are putting this money in your pockets? They feel that they are simply substituted, and we are we see inside the country. ”
“Yes, we have to work hard with those who take up arms, who bring explosives here or prepare these explosives and are trying to make these explosions in garbage containers or fire extinguishers. We will not talk to these. And we will not count to three either. But the bulk of the people with whom we need to talk, – stressed the head of state. – Whether they understand us or not, whether they hear or not is their business. But we need to talk to people.”
The opposition in Belarus entirely lost steam, the protests subsided and international help is a shadow of what it was.
The Belarusian opposition does not intend to engage in a dialogue with President Alexander Lukashenko, former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanouskaya.
“First of all, I must admit that we do not seek dialogue with Lukashenko himself,” Tikhanouskaya said.
According to the ex-candidate, Lukashenko is only interested in “staying in power.”
“He does not care about his country, he only cares about himself,” Tikhanouskaya believes.
“But we are certain that there are people in the government, in [the president’s] inner circle, who think like the majority of [Belarusian] people, who want to build a new country for a new generation, who do not want our children to live under […] a dictatorship,” the opposition figure noted.
“We understand,” Tikhanouskaya underscored, “that it is easier to have these contacts not with Lukashenko […] but with people within the system.”
“Therefore, we seek to establish these connections. And we already contact some people in secret. We have secret contacts in the Foreign Ministry, in the police. They hand us information, video footage of torture and violence,” Tikhanouskaya said.