MINSK — Maryya Maroz, the campaign chief for Belarusian opposition presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was briefly detained by authorities in Minsk on August 6 and “warned” of possible repercussions for staging what authorities called “unsanctioned” rallies.
Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign press secretary, Hanna Krasulina, told RFE/RL that Maroz was stopped and detained by several men who introduced themselves as police officers from the Interior Ministry, near the entrance of the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk.
Maroz, who was released shortly after the incident, said the men were officers from the Interior Ministry’s Directorate on the Fight Against Organized Crime and Extremism.
Maroz said the men transported her to the Interior Ministry’s directorate where they “warned” her about “responsibility” for organizing “unsanctioned public events” before they released her.
Tsikhanouskaya has managed to gather tens of thousands of supporters at rallies in Minsk and in other towns and cities across Belarus in recent weeks.
Belarus Votes For President
Read our coverage as voters in Belarus decide on August 9 whether President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will continue after 26 years in power.
Incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s 26 years of authoritarian rule in Belarus look increasingly vulnerable ahead of the August 9 election.
But many analysts say he is likely win through a combination of fraud and the repression of an energized opposition.
Early voting started on August 4.
Opposition politicians, rights activists, and critics of Lukashenka have called on citizens to refrain from early voting, charging that it gives Lukashenka loyalists more opportunities to rig the election results.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission said on August 5 that turnout during the first two days of early voting was 12.75 percent of the country’s 6.8 million eligible voters.