Minsk court to hold second hearing on detained Russians

The Belarus court in Minsk will hold on Monday a second hearing on the case of Russian nationals detained during the riots after the country's December 19 presidential elections.

"The Russian consul will attend the court hearing," said the press secretary of Russia's embassy in Belarus, Vadim Gusev.

Eleven Russians were detained among over 600 protesters, many of whom were injured as Belarusian police brutally dispersed the demonstration when protesters tried to storm parliament.

The riots broke out in Minsk as news emerged that long-standing leader Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the West, had won a fourth term in office.

Many of those who took part in the protests were jailed by the court for up to 15 days. Russia earlier requested that the Belarusian authorities release the Russian detainees.

Gusev said the Russian diplomats paid visits to the detention facilities where the Russians were being held.

"The detainees thanked the embassy workers for the support and efforts to release them," he said.

Belarusian authorities released on Wednesday a St. Petersburg press photographer Alexander Astafyev who was jailed for participating in riots after the country's presidential elections.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministy said Astafyev, one of several journalists detained in the riots, had not received accreditation to cover the presidential elections. Astafyev declared a hunger strike in protest.

Irina Khalip, a journalist for the Belarusian Novaya Gazeta, was detained in the protest along with her husband, ex-presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov. She is one of 17 people, including six opposition presidential candidates, who face criminal prosecution for allegedly organizing the riots.

MINSK, December 25 (RIA Novosti)


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