Alleged Russian protestor detained in Belarus intimidated by authorities - embassy

Artyom Breus, a Russian detained in Belarus on suspicion of participating in anti-presidential protests, told Russian diplomats he was intimidated and forced to bear false statements in custody, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Belarus said on Thursday.

More than 600 people, including eleven Russians, were detained in Belarus during protests against the December 19 presidential polls, called "flawed" by international observers, that secured President Alexander Lukashenko a fourth term in office.

Breus and another Russian, Ivan Gaponov, were subsequently accused of organizing the riots, which saw an attempt to storm parliament. Later the charges against them were reduced. Breus and Gaponov are currently charged only with participation in the mass protests, which carries from three to five years behind bars.

"Breus said he was compelled to say he had contacts with the leaders of the Belarusian opposition and other detained Russians. They threatened to transfer him to a KGB isolation cell and a 'hard life' in the colony," embassy spokesman Vadim Gusev said.

Belarus has denied a Russian request to stop the progress of the criminal case against the two Russian nationals, Gusev said. He emphasized that there is no direct photo or video evidence proving that the men participated in street protests in Minsk.

Breus does not expect a fair trial and is afraid that that only eyewitness, a Belarusian policeman, would provide evidence at his trial.

MINSK, February 10 (RIA Novosti)


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