Thirty more political prisoners in Belarus

2022 2022-05-06T18:17:59+0300 2022-05-18T18:58:33+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/komment_illustr.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

May 6, 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, and other actions aimed at the lawful exercising of freedom of expression 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 A. Lukashenka, police officers, and judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Artsiom Kazlouski, sentenced to restriction of freedom in an open-type penitentiary under Article 188 of the Criminal Code for slander, sent to serve his sentence;
  2. Yuri Tereshkevich, was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under part 1 of article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  3. Vital Rohach, taken into custody on charges in the „Zeltser case“;
  4. Oleg Yakunin, convicted under Article 341 of the Criminal Code to three months of arrest for two inscriptions about Lukashenko on the front of a house and a bus stop;
  5. Pavel Falkovsky convicted under Art. 341 of the Criminal Code to three months in jail for inscriptions;
  6. Andrey Stepanenko, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in a penal colony under Part 1 of Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  7. Dmitry Ponteleyko, sentenced to 12 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 370 of the Criminal Code (Desecration of state symbols) for posting an image of a swastika against the state flag on the VKontakte;
  8. Yan Alekseychikov, sentenced to 12 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 370 of the Criminal Code (Desecration of state symbols);
  9. Sergey Oleinikov, sentenced to 12 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 370 of the Criminal Code (Desecration of state symbols);
  10. Svetlana Savchenko was sentenced to 12 months in a penal colony under Article 339 of the Criminal Code for tearing down the flag attached to the car of a participant in the pro-government motor rally and striking several times with a plastic flagpole on the car, thereby expressing indignation at the behavior of the rally participants.
  11. Siarhei Karpenia, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka, sent to serve his sentence;
  12. Kirill Zhizhensky was convicted under Part 1 of Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka to 13 months in a penal colony;
  13. Iryna Pryhava, taken into custody under Articles 341 and 339 of the Criminal Code for distributing protest symbols;
  14. Dzmitryi Matusevich, taken into custody under Art. 341 for anti-war inscriptions;
  15. Viachaslau Liutynski, taken into custody under Art. 370 for desecrating state symbols;
  16. Aliaksei Khilkevich taken into custody on charges under Article 191 of the Criminal Code (Obstruction of the exercise of electoral rights or the work of election commissions) for mailing letters to the members of election commissions before the referendum with an appeal to honestly perform their duties;
  17. Aliaksandr Kazakevich was taken into custody on charges under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;
  18. Yauhen Halich, taken into custody under Art. 203-1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal actions with respect to information about private life and personal data) for the transfer of government officials' data to the media and under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;
  19. Hanna Kisialiova, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  20. Maryna Markevich, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  21. Viktar Khimaroda, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  22. Dzmitryi Zelianiak, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka and under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a goverment official;
  23. Aliaksandr Laurentsyeu, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka and under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a goverment official;
  24. Andrei Bialiauski, taken into custody under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting A. Lukashenka;
  25. Artsyom Leshnevsky, sentenced to 2 years and 6 months of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official; sent to serve his sentence;
  26. Salim Mamedau, sentenced under Article 364 of the Criminal Code to three years of restricted freedom with placement in an open-type correctional facility for a message on a social network that contained threats against a police officer, which could not be actually enforced; sent to serve his sentence;
  27. Viachaslau Shablinski, sentenced to freedom restriction in an open-type penitentiary under Art. 339 of the Criminal Code (Hooliganism) for inscriptions on hay bales; sent to serve a sentence;
  28. Ilya Goncharik was sentenced to four years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility under Article 364 of the Criminal Code for sending a non-threatening message from his cell phone to a local police inspector; sent to serve his sentence;
  29. Andrei Luhin, sentenced to 2 years and 6 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;
  30. Siarhei Kanavalau, sentenced to 2 years and 6 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;

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 recognize 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 Artsiom Kazlouski, Yuri Tereshkevich, Vital Rohach, Aliaksei Khilkevich, Viachaslau Shablinski, Andrey Stepanenko, Aliaksandr Kazakevich, Dmitry Ponteleyko, Yauhen Halich, Iryna Pryhava, Yan Alekseychikov, Sergey Oleinikov, Kirill Zhizhensky, Salim Mamedau, Ilya Goncharik, Siarhei Karpenia, Hanna Kisialiova, Maryna Markevich, Viktar Khimaroda, Artsyom Leshnevsky, Pavel Falkouski, Oleg Yakunin, Andrei Luhin, Dzmitryi Matusevich, Viachaslau Liutynski, Siarhei Kanavalau, Andrei Bialiauski, Aliaksandr Laurentsyeu, Dzmitryi Zeleniak, Svetlana Savchenko and stop their criminal persecution;
  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.

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