Seven former presidential candidates in Belarus have been charged with organizing mass riots, the Vesna human rights center reports on its web site. The seven are Vladimir Neklyayev, Nikolai Statkevich, Vitaly Rymashevsky, Andrei Sannikov, Alexei Mikhalevich, Grigory Kostusev and Dmitry Uss.
Neklyayev, Statkevich, Rymashevsky, Sannikov and Mikhalevich are in custody in Minsk, and Kostusev and Uss were released under a pledge not to leave the city.
On December 19, after polls closed in the presidential election, the opposition staged an unsanctioned rally in central Minsk to protest the victory of the incumbent head of state Alexander Lukashenko and attempted to storm the government residence.
Police dispersed the protesters. More than 600 people were detained.