Picks of the week
After a summer lull, when only a few politically motivated cases of persecution were reported by the media, the fall saw a new wave of repression targeting opponents of the current regime. According to human rights defenders, in the period of September to November, there were over 70 unmotivated arrests of opposition activists and journalists.
Most of the instances of administrative prosecution took place at the end of the parliamentary elections, in November. Most of these cases related to a series of protests in Minsk. Fourteen protesters were fined a total of 15,147 rubles ($7,150). Two opposition activists were sentenced to short prison terms, including blogger and activist Ales Krutkin who received the unexpectedly severe punishment for advertising a demonstration on his Facebook account.
Nina Bahinskaya, an opposition activist known for her stubborn stance in rejecting any financial help to pay the dozens of fines she has received over the past years, says her total debt has reached 100,000 rubles.
“They started to fine me in 2015 or 2016, and during the time it’s piled up to about 50 thousand dollars, which I haven’t paid and do not intend to pay. I have no property, so they continue to take half of my pension,” the 72-year-old activist said.
The fall was also marked by new cases involving journalists. One contributor to a foreign media outlet was fined. Two more are yet to stand trials.
Volha Chaichyts, a Belsat TV reporter, had her mobile phone cut off for alleged failure to pay a fine she received for covering a post-election protest in 2010. Meanwhile, Chaichyts says the debt was settled back in 2011. According to her, the case is another instance of persecution for her work as a journalist.