Belarus Renews Crackdown on Journalists and Activists

Belarusian authorities have conducted new searches and arrests of union activists and independent journalists in Minsk, Grodno, Borisov, and other cities. 

Leading human rights group Viasna human rights center said Wednesday that police arrested at least 16 people. 

The rights group also said that Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions president Alexander Yaroshuk and another top union leader, Alexander Bukhvostov, were among those arrested. 

The accusations have not been made public, but reports said authorities declared several unions as “extremist” organizations shortly before the arrests.

Siarhei Cherachen, a former presidential candidate, said that security officers dressed in black uniforms broke doors into the union office.

“It’s a new mopping-up operation against civil society,” Cherachen said.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists said that Aksana Kolb, the editor of the independent Novy Chas newspaper, was also detained on Wednesday.

The Belarusian authorities have conducted a multi-pronged crackdown on dissent after massive anti-government protests following the sixth relection of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Local media reported more than 35,000 people arrested and thousands beaten by police in response to the protests.

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