Two Russians charged with organizing riots in Belarus

MINSK, January 5 (Itar-Tass) - Belarussian authorities charged two Russian citizens, detained late last year in the republic's capital, with organizing mass disturbances and participating in them, spokesman for Belarussian Interior Ministry Viktor Novikov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

"The Russians have been charged under Article 293, Parts 1 and 2 of Belarus' Criminal Code. This article covers organization of and participation in mass disturbances. Under Belarussian legislation, the culprits may be punished by 5 to 15 years in prison," he said.

Novikov said the Russians are in custody in Minsk's pre-trial detention center # 1.

On December 19, 2010, supporters of the Belarussian Opposition held an unsanctioned action in central Minsk in protest against the official results of the presidential election.

During the protest, unidentified persons attempted to storm the House of Government.

The authorities sent special task force units to disperse the protesters. More than 600 people were detained, including 12 Russian citizens. One of the detainees was released after paying a fine. The other were punished by administrative arrest from 10 to 15 days.

On December 29, all Russian citizens were set free, but the Belarussian authorities detained two of them later a second time.

According to the Belarussian Interior Ministry, they were "detained within the framework of the criminal case over mass disturbances."


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