In Belarus, opposition activist Stepan Latypov attempted to kill himself during his trial. He is said to have been tortured.
Belarusian opposition activist Stepan Latypov tried to commit suicide in the courtroom on Tuesday. After questioning his father, Stepan Latypov got on the bench in his prosecution cage and stabbed his throat with a pen until he passed out, the Belarusian human rights organization Vyasna reported. He was taken to the hospital.
The 41-year-old had previously reported to his father that he had been threatened with legal action against his relatives if he did not plead guilty, Wjasna reported. Latypow appeared in court with injuries.
Politician speaks of Lukashenko’s “murderous character”
Like many Belarusians, Latypov was involved in the protests against ruler Alexander Lukashenko last year. He was arrested near his apartment block in Minsk in September and faces a number of charges, including resisting police arrest and making symbols of protest.
The opposition politician and former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikow, who lives in exile in Poland, spoke on Twitter of an act of “desperation” by the 41-year-old. Latypov had been “beaten and tortured for a long time,” he said, adding: “further evidence of the murderous nature of Lukashenko’s regime”.
After the presidential election last August, which was overshadowed by massive allegations of fraud, there were unprecedented mass protests in Belarus, which Lukashenko had put down. Thousands of demonstrators were arrested and opposition leaders had to go into exile. According to Vyasna, 449 political prisoners are currently in custody in Belarus.
Belarus tightened exit restrictions
After the government critic’s attempted suicide, Belarus tightened the restrictions on its citizens’ exit. In future, only those citizens will be allowed to leave the country by land who can prove that they have a permanent residence permit in another state, as the Belarusian border guard announced on Telegram.
Traveling by plane is generally allowed. However, destinations have recently become severely limited as the EU has responded to the The government critic Roman Protassevich was arrested Has imposed take-off and landing bans on Belarusian airlines. The journalist and his partner were arrested after their Ryanair flight was forced to make a stopover in the Belarusian capital Minsk en route from Athens to Vilnius.
“Absolute breach of the law”
The Belarusian opposition denounced the exit restrictions that have now been imposed as an “absolute violation of the law”. The country’s constitution does not specify any conditions for leaving the country by land, wrote Valery Kowalewski, the foreign policy advisor to opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya, on Twitter. Tichanowskaja lives in exile in Lithuania.
Several leading opposition figures had fled abroad in recent months in view of the rigorous actions of the authorities and security forces against government critics, some of them secretly by land.
Already in December, the government of head of state Alexander Lukashenko made it difficult for citizens to leave the country, citing the corona pandemic as the reason for this. Since then, it has not been allowed to leave the national territory by land more than once in a period of six months.