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Wave of searches in open penitentiaries

2022 2022-02-19T14:03:33+0300 2022-02-19T14:03:33+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The Belarusian authorities continue to repress Belarusians for exercising their political views and expressing dissatisfaction with the actions of the authorities: citizens continue to be detained and searched and other forms of pressure on Belarusians are applied.

On February 15, there was a wave of detentions, searches, and interrogations of convicts and former convicts serving their sentences in open penitentiaries. Searches were carried out under Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist group or participation in it) by KGB officers. It is known, that one of the political prisoners was interrogated for 12 hours.

Dzianis Hrakhanau. Photo:

On February 15, 43-year-old Dzianis Hrakhanau was detained at open correctional institution No. 45 in the Brest region. He was serving his sentence of 18 months of restricted freedom for writing “We will not forget" on the site where a protester was shot to death by riot police during the August 9 protests. KGB officers arrived at the correctional institution, took away phones from everyone, and questioned those in “political” cases including Hrakhanau.

Human rights defenders have learned that a new criminal case has been brought against Hrakhanau, but the article is still unknown. According to preliminary information, the political prisoner was transferred to the Homieĺ pre-trial detention center.

Yury Kastsiuk in court

Former political prisoner Yury Kastsiuk was also detained on February 15. A 24-year-old man from Brest was accused of insulting state symbols under Article 370 of the Criminal Code. According to the investigation, on September 4, 2020, Yury Kastsiuk pulled the state flag on a hotel building in Brest. As a result, the pole was broken and the flag fell to the ground. On November 17, 2020, Yury was sentenced to 12 months of restricted freedom in an open correctional facility.

On November 23, 2021, a trial was held to replace the sentence with a more severe one. As a result, Yury was sentenced to 1 month and 16 days in general-security penal colony. Yury Kastsiuk fully served his sentence and was released on January 6, 2022.

Liavon Khalatran in the courtroom. Photo from the official website of the headquarters of Viktar Babaryka
A volunteer in Viktar Babaryka’s presidential campaign, a political prisoner Liavon Khalatran was questioned as a witness. It is however not known what case the questioning took place within and which agency's officers conducted it.

A year ago, Liavon was convicted under Part 1 Article 342 of the Criminal Code to two years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary for his participation in the post-election protest on August 9, 2020.


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