Three activists of the Omsk Youth YABLOKO organisation
arrested at night of March 18 are have been still detained.
The Main Interior Department informs that they are accused
of vandalism, however, the local police department which
is detaining the activists denies this and promises to release
the activists soon.
An annual action in support of freedom of speech in Belarus
has been held at night March 18 – 19. This is a part of
international campaign European Youth Against the Belarus
Dictatorship. The participants of the performance gag statues
with banners saying “Freedom to Belarus!”
Omsk YABLOKO activists Anton Zhebrun, Mikhail Maglov and
Andrei Yermilov were arrested by police when they were gaging
a Dostoyevsky statue. They were escorted to the local police
department Centralnoye, where they were kept the whole night
without water and food. Anton Zhebrun had a heart attack,
the police called an ambulance. However, the policemen did
not allow the young people to make calls via their mobile
In the morning Sergei Kostaryov, the leader of the Omsk
YABLOKO called Colonel Viktor Kovalenko in charge of monitoring
all the political actions in the region. The Colonel confirmed
the information that the activists were detained (in spite
of the fact that the local police department continued releasing
each time contradictory information: either confirming or
denying the arrest) and said that criminal persecution in
connection with “vandalism towards statues” had been launched.
“About 1 p.m. the police confiscated for some reason the
shoes of the arrested,” Sergei Kostaryov says, adding that
a police officer promised to release the arrested soon.
YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin said that this represented
“another round of reprisals against political activists”.
“Vandalism is out of the question here, as this did not
harm the statue in any way,” he said adding that, however,
he personally considered the “format of the action be not
very well conceived”.
YABLOKO continues closely following the developments and
has already lodged a complaint to Public Prosecutor.