Twelve names added to the list of political prisoners

2022 2022-05-25T16:38:28+0300 2022-05-26T17:15:44+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/dif_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 25, 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 Aliaksandr Lukashenka, police officers, judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Mr. Denis Barsukov, sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  2. Ms. Natallia Malets, sentenced to 12 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;
  3. Ms. Svetlana Firsova, sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  4. Mr. Mikhail Laban, sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 367 of the Criminal Code for slandering Aliaksandr Lukashenka, under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka and under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;
  5. Mr. Siarhei Lis, sentenced to 3 years of restricted freedom with placement in an open-type correctional facility under Article 364 of the Criminal Code for a message on a social network regarding the wife of Internal Affairs Department employee, that contained no threats of violence; sent to serve his sentence;
  6. Mr. Yauhen Paulouski, sentenced to 12 months of restricted freedom with placement in an open-type correctional facility under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official and sent to serve his sentence;
  7. Mr. Ivan Botyuk, sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Part 1 and 2 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  8. Mr. Maksim Latsuntsevich, taken into custody under Part 1 of Article 130 and Article 369 of the Criminal Code in the ‘Zeltser case’;
  9. Mr. Ihar Lednik, taken into custody under Part 1 of Article 367 of the Criminal Code for slandering Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  10. Mr. Maksim Kublitski, sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment in a penal colony under Article 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting the President) and Article 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a government official);
  11. Mr. Kanstantsin Rudnitski, taken into custody for developing software that allowed printing data of persons involved in repressions in Belarus and thus contributing to the free dissemination of information, which was qualified as complicity in threats of violence against government officials, police officers, interference in the activities of the police, insulting the authorities and illegal actions against private information and personal data under; he was charged under Part 6 of Article 16 and Part 3 of Article 203-1, Part 6 of Article 16 and Article 364, Part 6 of Article 16 and Article 365, Part 6 of Article 16 and Part 1 of Article 366, Part 6 of Article 16 and Article 369 of the Criminal Code;
  12. Mr. Ihar Halushka, taken into custody under Part 1 of Article 130 (incitement to hatred) and Article 368 (insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka) of the Criminal Code for comments on the social network criticizing the government and Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

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 Mr. Denis Barsukov, Ms. Natallia Malets, Ms. Svetlana Firsova, Mr. Mikhail Laban, Mr. Siarhei Lis, Mr. Yauhen Paulouski, Mr. Ivan Botyuk, Mr. Maksim Latsuntsevich, Mr. Ihar Lednik, Mr. Kanstantsin Rudnitski, Mr. Ihar Halushka, Mr. Maksim Kublitski and stop 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.

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