“Critical Mass” in Minsk ended up in brutal detentions

The cyclists in many countries organize “Critical Mass” ride on the last Friday of the month. By this they want to draw the attention of city authorities and force them to make the city more convenient for the bicycles. The similar ride was held in Minsk on 29 April, and it ended up in detentions and searches.

About 35 people gathered together in the center of Minsk to ride their bicycles around the city and declare the rights of cyclists on the road. Ten police officers in plain clothes and four anti-riot policemen were also seen at the meeting site. The events were observed by Kiryl Kazhenau, the representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, who was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk at the end of the column.

At some point the cyclists at the end of the column were cut off by the van. The anti-riot police officers jumped out of the van and arrested six people, including the BHC observer. The young men were thrown to the bus, were made to face the floor, and then were hit in the stomach and face. The bicycles were thrown on top of the detainees, who were then brought to the district police department.

“This has never happened before. The most brutal detention was before the election: a couple of road policemen, a riot police bus. Howeverб today it was like some sort of hunting!” says one of the participants of the bike ride.

The observers at the police station have seen through the window that the guys were brought to the table one by one and made to sign some papers. Then all detainees were put next to the wall, facing it.

About 11:30 pm one of the guys was released. He said that there are still 5 people detained, all of them were forced to sign a protocol of the administrative offense. Two of the guys refused to do so, after this the policemen took away their personal belongings, including shoelaces.

On 30 April, the houses of these cyclists were searched. Stanislau Kanavalau was brought home in handcuffs by the police officers. The search was conducted in a presence of the neighbors, who were witnesses. The police was looking for the flash drives and other media storage devices. As a result, the police took a computer hard drive, and then left with the detainee. The same happened at the house of another detainee – Dzmitry Palienka.

The Minsk police has its own version of the situation with the “Critical Mass”

The Police Department of Minsk City Executive Committee has published their version of the incident with a group of cyclists on the social media pages:
“Near the obelisk “Minsk – Hero City” the group of bicyclists violated the traffic rules. They ignored the several orders to stop for which the police had to use loud-speakers and siren-lights. When the police officers tried to prevent the unlawful actions of the cyclists, the later resisted them. One of the participants started a fight with a traffic police officer and damaged his uniform. Six initiators of the fight were detained and delivered to the Tsentralny district police department of Minsk. Their actions are now given a legal assessment.” Along with the text, the photo of the damaged jacket of the traffic police officer was published.

***

Criminal cases have been opened against two cyclists, who are charged under Art. 364 of the Criminal Code “Violence or the threat of violence against police officers”, they may face the imprisonment of up to 6 years.

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