As protests against the Belarusian president continue, authorities have ordered banks to seize funds raised to help out protesters.
Thousands of people were fined and hundreds were seriously injured due to police brutality during protests in Belarus. In an effort to support and compensate the victims, activists came up with fundraising techniques.
However, following an order from authorities funds which are meant to support the victims have been frozen in accounts.
In August, a London-based Belarusian Andrei Leonchik raised £2 million after setting up the By help fund. Many Belarusian citizens responded to the call, making small donations to cover funds and pay for treatment of those who were injured.
Belarusian authorities claimed that Leonchik was raising funds “to support protest actions in Belarus” with the purpose of overthrowing President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a letter addressed to the Belarusian banks, the authorities said Leonchik was collaborating with the opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fund the demonstrations.
Leonchik denied the claims saying: “I have absolutely no links with Tikhanovskaya, and that was our intention from the very beginning. He said he intentionally kept his fund separate from the Belarus Solidarity, which support striking workers or helps them to leave Belarus.
This was a deliberate decision: they are the solidarity movement and we are the humanitarian movement,” he said.
The By help fund had paid out over 3,300 cases of people who were imprisoned or injured out of more than 8,700 applications for financial support.
On Tuesday morning, many people started reporting that their accounts were frozen and while some who had spent the money they had received found that their accounts were overdrawn.