Russians kept in custody in Belarus without evidence - diplomats

The Russian Embassy in Minsk criticized the Belarusian authorities on Friday for keeping two alleged Russian protesters in custody for a month without evidence, a spokesman said on Friday.

Ivan Gaponov and Artem Breus, may face up to 15 years in jail for allegedly taking part in unsanctioned protests against the results of controversial presidential elections in Belarus on December 19, which saw the country's long-term ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, win his fourth consecutive term in office.

"It is completely unclear why the Russians have to stay in prison facing unsubstantiated charges while some former presidential candidates have been let out on a plea not to leave the country," Embassy spokesman Vadim Gusev said, adding that the Russians' lawyer had already filed an appeal.

"The Russian [Artem Breus] has been arrested on grounds that...some former presidential candidates said they knew him, although he has denied any personal connection with them," Gusev added.

More than 600 protesters, including 11 Russians, were detained and many were injured when Belarusian police brutally dispersed protesters, who tried to storm parliament in protest against the election results, which they claimed were rigged. Western countries have refused recognize the election results.

MINSK, January 28 (RIA Novosti)


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