A member of a council for human rights and civil society that operates under the Russian president's aegis said activists who held protests in the Belarus capital, Minsk, on Dec. 19 against the alleged rigging of that day's presidential election had become victims of various forms of human rights abuse by Belarusian authorities.
"In monitoring those events we registered human rights violations that fall into several categories. One of the categories is the way the protesters were being arrested and treated after their arrest. For example, detainees have been complaining that they were denied medical assistance or were beaten up during their arrest. Besides, many of them were given no food or drink for more than 30 hours," Sergei Krivenko told reporters in Moscow.
Krivenko, who was a member of an international human rights monitoring mission to Belarus, also said there was evidence that methods "that may be qualified as torture" had been used against some of the detainees.
He also cited other forms of alleged reprisals.
"We have registered at least three instances where attempts were made to expel from higher education institutions students who had spent 15 days under administrative arrest for participation in the protest action on the night after the presidential election. Moreover, instances have been recorded where young specialists who had been sentenced to between 10 and 15 days' detention were [accused of absence from work without leave and] dismissed from jobs they had been assigned after graduating from higher education institutions. Such dismissals possibly mean that they will have to compensate the Belarusian state for the funds spent on their education," Krivenko said.
Krivenko also said that, after the Dec. 19 events, Belarusian law enforcement authorities had been raising obstacles to what he said were legitimate activities by rights groups and journalists, including Russian reporters.
"Some of the nongovernmental organizations involved in human rights defense have had their offices searched. For instance, just today officers of the Belarusian [State Security Committee] have searched the offices of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and computers were seized there," he said.
Another member of the monitoring mission, Yury Dzhibladze, said: "It is in our plans to prepare the necessary documents and put before the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] a demand for initiating an investigation into the events that have taken place on the basis of the so-called 'Moscow Mechanism.' We will do so before Jan. 10. This means that an ad hoc mission may be sent to Belarus that, jointly with Belarusian human rights activists, would analyze the events that have taken place and prepare an independent report on the situation in Belarus," Dzhibladze said.