12 people recognized as political prisoners

2022 2022-01-27T13:15:26+0300 2022-02-03T16:52:52+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/telegtam_illustr.jpeg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

January 27, 2022

In response to an increase in the number of cases of conviction and imprisonment of individuals under a number of defamatory articles of the Criminal Code, as well as for insulting state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community demand to put the end to the persecution for legitimate expression of views and, reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and to refrain from imposing terms of imprisonment for insulting officials, the state, government agencies, and symbols (as mentioned in the Joint statement of December 22, 2020), note the following.

At the moment we know about the following persons imprisoned for insulting the president, police officers, judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Ruslan Sinchukou, sentenced to 1 year of imprisonment under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  2. Mikalai Berdnikau, sentenced to 2 years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer; sent to serve his sentence;
  3. Anatol Vydryn, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer; sent to serve his sentence;
  4. Dzmitryi Tsyb, sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official; sent to serve his sentence;
  5. Mikalai Belaziorau, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer; sent to serve his sentence;
  6. Mikalai Kavaleuski, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a police officer; sent to serve his sentence;
  7. Mikita Paleonak taken into custody on charges under Art. 368 and 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka and a government official;
  8. Andrei Korabau taken into custody on charges under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  9. Mikalai Vitsikau was taken into custody on charges under Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (Incitement to hatred) for writing to a district newspaper with proposals for constitutional reform;
  10. Aleh Kanavalau taken into custody on charges under Art. 130 of the Criminal Code for comments on the “Zeltsar case” and for posting “anti-government information” on the Internet;
  11. Andrei Myshkavets taken into custody on charges under Art. 369 and 130 of the Criminal Code for comments on the “Zeltsar case”;
  12. Artsiom Zhernak taken into custody on charges under part 3 of Art. 293 and Art. 361 of the Criminal Code for training mass riots participants and calls for restrictive measures (sanctions).

In this regard, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of the persons listed above as politically motivated in connection with the peaceful exercise of their views, and the convicts as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners. We, therefore, call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  1. Immediately release political prisoners Ruslan Sinchukou, Mikalai Berdnikau, Anatol Vydryn, Dzmitryi Tsyba, Mikalai Belaziorau, Mikalai Kavaleuski, Mikita Paleonak, Andrei Korabau, Mikalai Vitsikau, Aleh Kanavalau, Andrei Myshkavets, Artsiom Zhernak and stop criminal prosecution against them.
  2. Decriminalize defamation offenses and abolish articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state and state symbols, namely Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code, and stop all ongoing criminal cases under these articles.
  3. Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center Viasna

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