Belarus opposition to make list of police officers accused of abuse

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Demonstrators carrying large Belarus flag in the street
Demonstrators carry a huge historical flag of Belarus

Belarus’ opposition will compile a register of police officers accused of abuses against peaceful demonstrators protesting the reelection of the country’s authoritarian leader, an opposition leader said.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in Belarus’ August presidential vote, said in a video call from Vilnius, Lithuania, that the “book of crimes” will include accounts of police abuse that will be verified by independent lawyers.

“Impunity will not last forever,” said Ms Tsikhanouskaya, who was pressured by Belarus authorities to leave for neighbouring Lithuania after the vote.

“No one will be able to deprive hundreds of thousands of people who are striving for justice from speaking out.”

Belarus has been swept by mass protests that were triggered by President Alexander Lukashenko’s reelection to a sixth term in office by a landslide in the August 9 election that the opposition said was riddled with fraud.

Police have cracked down hard on the largely peaceful demonstrations, using stun grenades, tear gas and truncheons to disperse protesters.

Thousands of people have been detained, and many of them badly beaten, since the protests began, human rights advocates say.

The rallies, the biggest of which drew up to 200,000, have continued despite the increasingly tough police response.

The United States and the European Union have introduced sanctions against Belarus officials accused of involvement in vote-rigging and the post-election crackdown.

Ms Tsikhanouskaya said that the opposition will use the register of police officers accused of abuses to push for Western sanctions against them.

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