MINSK, 11 March (BelTA) – The Investigative Committee has finished investigating a criminal case against the blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky (the husband of the former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya), the leader of the non-registered public association Narodnaya Gramada [People's Assembly] Nikolai Statkevich, and people close to them, the Investigative Committee press service told BelTA.
According to the Investigative Committee, over a lengthy period of time the accused actively prepared and organized mass riots in Belarus in the period after the latest presidential election.
Sergei Tikhanovsky is accused of using a YouTube channel and a Telegram channel to openly call for violence against government officials and law enforcement officers. His statements sparked enmity and discord in the society on grounds of social affiliations. The Investigative Committee collected evidence that directly connects the committed crimes with actions of the extremists that manipulated the public conscience by means of destructive Telegram channels (including those, which have been recognized as extremist channels) and other ones. The body of evidence relies on results of investigative work, conclusions of linguistic expert evaluations and psychological expert evaluations.
Dozens of people were instigated to take an active part in actions that blatantly disrupt public order and in mass riots. These people resorted to violence against law enforcement officers and have been prosecuted in line with the law. Apart from that, in May 2020 Sergei Tikhanovsky interfered with the operation of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus by means of threats aimed at the committee's Chairwoman Lidia Yermoshina.
According to the Investigative Committee, the accused organized an illegal mass event in Grodno in May 2020 under the guise of a picket for collecting signatures for nominating presidential candidates. The illegal mass event was accompanied by blatant disruptions of public order, violence against law enforcement officers, and blatant defiance of the authorities.
The Investigative Committee questioned the accused, witnesses, and victims and examined over 160 various devices. The investigators found correspondence, video records, and photos that implicate the accused in these crimes. Conclusions of over 70 expert evaluations have been added to the criminal case.
Since damage from the actions of Sergei Tikhanovsky and people affiliated with him exceeds Br3.5 million, the property and monetary assets of the accused have been arrested. Sergei Tikhanovsky faces final charges as specified by part 1, Article 293 of the Criminal Code (organization of mass riots), part 3, Article 130 (stirring of social enmity), part 2, Article 191 (interference with the operation of the Central Election Commission), and part 1, Article 342 (organization of actions that blatantly disrupt public order).
The Investigative Committee had previously finished investigating nine criminal cases that had evolved from Sergei Tikhanovsky's case against 25 accomplices. Those include Internet bloggers and people, who had been preparing to participate in mass riots and the capture of administrative buildings. Guilty verdicts have already been pronounced in some of the cases. Work is now in progress to wrap up the investigation and get the parties involved familiar with materials of the criminal case, the Investigative Committee added.