#FreeViasna: Weekly news digest on Viasna’s imprisoned human rights defender

2022 2022-01-17T18:51:12+0300 2022-01-17T18:51:13+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/poster_freeviasna.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On September 17, #FreeViasna campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna members was launched. Here’s the latest news about them.

Appeal against the conviction of Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa not allowed

On January 14, the Homiel Regional Court considered an appeal against the verdict to the head of Viasna’s branch in Homiel Leanid Sudalenka and his assistant Tatsiana Lasitsa.

Judge Mikalai Maratayeu ruled that the verdict was fair. He left it unchanged, and the complaint was dismissed.

Amnesty International has issued a statement demanding the release of Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa.

Verdict to human right defenders of Viasna’s branch in Homiel unchanged

On January 14, the Homiel Regional Court considered an appeal against the verdict to the head of Viasna’s branch in Homiel Leanid Sudalenka and his assistant Tatsiana Lasitsa.

Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich and Uladzimir Labkovich have been in jail for six months

Ales Bialiatski, chairman of Viasna, Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman, and Uladzimir Labkovich, a lawyer, have been in jail for more than six months.

The relatives have no information about the progress of the case and investigative actions involving Ales Bialiatski, as his lawyers are under a non-disclosure order. Ales's wife is most worried about her husband's health.

Letters to Uladzimir Labkovich and Valiantsin Stefanovich. Illustration by Hanna Niskavets

After Valiantsin Stefanovich was detained, his wife Alina and her children left for Georgia, where they have been living for six months. Alina says that she had no illusions that the situation with her husband's arrest would soon be resolved and he would be released:

“It's obvious that the regime is just taking revenge on human rights defenders. This is the revenge of the state for helping the people who suffered from repressions.  That's why it was obvious from the very beginning that it wouldn't end with some kind of audit of the activities, for example. These actions [arrest of human rights defenders] were aimed directly at isolating the leaders of Viasna.

Alina says that Valiantsin's mood is now as normal as possible in detention:

“He is not losing his optimism and good mood. I think he even supports the rest of the people who are with him in the same cell.”

According to Uladzimir Labkovich's mother Liudmila, the correspondence with her son has decreased lately, with only a few letters from the family being forwarded to him. Even New Year greetings have not been passed on to him. Uladzimir also mentioned this fact in his recent letters:

“I have not received holiday greetings from Nina [my wife], my children. I almost do not receive letters from them. Everyone in the cell gets piles of letters. And I have not received a single one.”

During his six-month imprisonment, Uladzimir 's health deteriorated significantly. He complains of frequent headaches and insomnia. His eyesight has also deteriorated badly.

Six months in jail. What is known about three detained Viasna members

What relatives say about the detained Viasna members, how they met the New Year without their loved ones, and what the human rights defenders write in their letters–in our story.

The case against Marfa Rabkova and Andrei Chapiuk to be sent to court soon

The Investigative Committee reports that the case against the coordinator of the Viasna volunteer service Marfa Rabkova, volunteer Andrei Chapyuk and eight other politically imprisoned anarchists was transferred to the prosecutor's office for trial.

Letter to human rights activist Marfa Rabkova. Illustration by Hanna Niskavets
The Investigative Committee characterizes three political prisoners, including Marfa Rabkova, as organizers and leaders of a number of organized criminal groups that had autonomous cells in the regions of Belarus.

The human rights activist is charged under 10 articles of the Criminal Code and faces up to 20 years in prison.

Andrei Chapyuk is charged under two articles and faces up to 8 years in prison.