Political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok faces one more year in prison
On November 20, it was reported that a criminal case was opened against political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok under Part 1, Article 411 of the Criminal Code - willful disobedience of the lawful demands of the administration of the correctional institution. As a result, he may be sentenced to one more year of imprisonment.
Article 411 of the Criminal Code has been repeatedly criticized by the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and other human rights organizations. Human rights defenders stress the fact that it is a legacy of the Soviet Union that moved into the modern criminal legislation of Belarus. However, such charges are not used in the law of the Russian Federation or in Ukraine. This article used to be applied in respect of such categories of prisoners as “criminal bosses”, probably so that it was easier for the Soviet regime to struggle with them. A criminal case under Article 411 is opened for the systematic failure to comply with the orders of the prison administration, this article provides accountability for repeated disciplinary sanctions that are imposed on a prisoner, that is, he has already been punished. In fact, it means the extension of a sentence in prison. According to human rights activists, the danger is that this criminal article gives the possibility of selective application to undesirable prisoners.
Deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich recalls that Mikalai Dziadok is unfortunately not the first political prisoner to face the charges. “Earlier, these charges were brought against Dzmitry Dashkevich. His trial was held behind closed doors, in the colony, which could not be attended by either citizens or representatives of human rights organizations, nor the representatives of the diplomatic corps. It was only attended by Dashkevich himself and his counsel.” The human rights activist expressed concern that the trial of Mikalai Dziadok could be held under the same circumstances.
Human rights activists view the increased pressure against political prisoners in the general course of events in recent months.
“The case of Mikalai Dziadok in conjunction with the criminal case of opposition activist Yury Rubtsou, whose appeal will be heard tomorrow, information on disciplinary sanctions against other political prisoners (for example, in recent months, Ihar Alinevich has spent 40 days in solitary confinement) allow us to say that what we are witnessing is a trend towards deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. That is, political prisoners are not released, and their number is increasing. This trend is alarming to us, and we attribute it certainly to the upcoming presidential election due next year,” said Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Human rights activists fear that next year Belarus will see a further increase in the level of political repression against the background of the next election campaign.