Five new political prisoners in Belarus

2021 2021-03-02T19:14:21+0300 2021-03-02T19:16:16+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/carykevicpltx.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Minsk – March 2, 2021

In response to an increase in the number of convictions and sentences of imprisonment handed down on defamation charges and the charges of insulting the state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, once again reaffirming our demands for the decriminalization of defamation and the inadmissibility of imprisonment for insulting officials, the state, government agencies and symbols (joint statement of December 22, 2020), note the following.

We have received information about the following persons imprisoned for insulting government officials (police officers) and state symbols:

Ruslan Linnik – detained on charges under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official);

Viktar Tsarykevichsentenced to one year in prison by the Masty District Court under Parts 1 and 2 of Art. 339 (hooliganism) and Art. 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official);

Ihar Kapanaika – a citizen of the Russian Federation, sentenced to one and a half years in prison by the Frunzienski District Court of Minsk under Part 1 of Art. 339 (hooliganism) and Art. 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official);

Yan Rymarausentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open correctional facility by the Žlobin District Court under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official); sent to serve the sentence;

Yury Kastsiuksentenced to one year of restricted freedom in an open correctional facility by the Lieninski District Court of Brest under Art. 370 of the Criminal Code (insulting the state symbols); sent to serve the sentence.

In this regard, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of Ruslan Linnik, Viktar Tsarykevich, Ihar Kapanaika, Yan Rymarau, and Yury Kastsiuk to be politically motivated, as they are linked to their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. Ruslan Linnik, Viktar Tsarykevich, Ihar Kapanaika, Yan Rymarau, and Yury Kastsiuk are therefore political prisoners, in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.

We call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately release political prisoners Ruslan Linnik, Viktar Tsarykevich, Ihar Kapanaika, Yan Rymarau, and Yury Kastsiuk and stop the criminal prosecution against them;
  • take measures aimed at decriminalizing defamation offenses and repealing articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state, state symbols and officials, namely Art. 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391, and to drop all criminal cases under these articles;
  • immediately release all political prisoners and end political repression.

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