Five more suspects in “riot” case released
Only two suspects in a so-called riot case remain in jail after as many as five suspects were released on Thursday.
The five include Alyaksey Abramaw, Andrey Dundukow, Ivan Kavalchuk, Andrey Komlik-Yamatsin and Dzmitry Novik.
The two remaining in jail are Miraslaw Lazowski, the former leader of a now-defunct nationalist organization called Bely Lehiyon (White Legion), and former White Legion member Viktar Maroz.
A total of 12 suspects in the riot case were released on their own recognizance in three days, from June 27 to June 29.
The fact that suspects in the case are released one by one suggests that there is no evidence against them, Valyantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Vyasna Human Rights Center, told reporters on Thursday.
Earlier this month, the investigation of the case was transferred from the KGB to the Investigative Committee of Belarus.
All of those who remain under investigation in the case are facing a charge of forming an illegal armed unit. The KGB dropped the charge of preparations for a riot against them before handing over the case to the Investigative Committee.
Suspects in the case started to be arrested after Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed on March 21 that in the past few hours "we have apprehended a couple of dozens of militants who were preparing an armed provocation."
Three days later the Belarusian leader said that those arrested on suspicion of training and preparing for a riot had dug holes in forests "like partisans" to hide "weapons, iron bars, axes, knives, grenades and other things," and pretended to teach children patriotism.
A total of some 30 suspects were arrested in the riot case.
State media outlets reported in late March with reference to a KGB source that the KGB had conducted 29 searches of the homes of suspects, seizing a Kalashnikov assault rifle, three carbines, two pistols, rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, clubs and telescopic truncheons, knives, axes, components and substances for making explosive devices, military uniform, bulletproof vests, helmets, NATO military first-aid kits, urban combat manuals and flags and various items bearing the emblems of volunteer military units fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The arrested White Legion members were in fact "professionally trained militants aged 25 to 43" who planned to use the seized weapons during a protest scheduled to be held in Minsk on March 25, the KGB source was quoted as saying.
Miraslaw Lazowski and other White Legion leaders allegedly planned to involve Malady Front activists led by Zmitser Dashkevich and “militants” who were expected to arrive from Ukraine, including members of UNA-UNSO, with which White Legion had allegedly closely cooperated since the 1990s.
In mid-May, the KGB released Yawhen Paltarzhytski, a young historian who was arrested on March 21 and later charged with preparations for a mass riot and involvement in an illegal armed unit.
In a report run by the STV television channel in late March, Mr. Paltarzhytski said on camera that he and a number of other arrested suspects had "practiced moving in groups under combat conditions."
"There were plans to study urban combat tactics because there was a report that pro-Russian forces might attack the procession of demonstrators and injure people," he said. “We were told to be ready to repulse the attack."
Mr. Paltarzhytski allegedly led KGB officers to a White Legion cache near the village of Tserabeynaye in the Stowbtsy district, Minsk region, in which "iron bars wrapped in sackcloth, two 100-liters containers with iron bars in them, and six F-1 and RGD-5 grenades with fuses" were discovered.