Human Rights Situation in Belarus: May 2022

2022 2022-06-14T13:12:18+0300 2022-06-14T13:12:37+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/vokladka_may_2021.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Executive Summary:

  • The situation in Belarus is determined by the profound human rights crisis, and by the state leadership's support for the war of aggression unleashed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.
  • The Human Rights Center Viasna (Viasna - hereinafter) strongly condemns the actions of Belarusian and Russian authorities that undermine the principles of peaceful coexistence of peoples, violate the Constitution and laws of Belarus, and international treaties.
  • During May 2022, the Belarusian authorities kept actively prosecuting citizens on political grounds, including for anti-war protests and subscriptions to protest accounts on social networks as detentions of peaceful protesters continue together with arbitrary detentions for displaying white-red-white symbols, including in private homes and areas. In May, Viasna documented 42 fines and 43 instances of administrative detention sentenced by courts against protesters.
  • 1,217 political prisoners were held in places of detention as of late May, the number continues to grow steadily.
  • Members of Viasna continue to be held in pre-trial detention on arbitrary charges: Chairman Mr. Ales Bialiatski; Member of the Board, and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich; lawyer and coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign Mr. Uladzimir Labkovich; coordinator of Viasna’s volunteer network Ms. Marfa Rabkova and volunteer Mr. Andrei Chapiuk whose trial has commenced. A Viasna member and the head of Center for Strategic Litigation Mr. Leanid Sudalenka who was sentenced to three years of imprisonment, and a volunteer at Viasna Ms. Tatsiana Lasitsa who was sentenced to two years and six months - are in penal colonies.
  • Human rights defenders and journalists continue to report numerous cases of ill-treatment of politically imprisoned citizens, and those detained and administratively arrested for participating in peaceful assemblies. Viasna experts consider the inhumane conditions that have been deliberately created for political detainees by administrations of pre-trial prisons and other facilities as torture.
  • Torture and other ways of ill-treatment continue to be used during investigations of politically motivated criminal cases.
  • Viasna honored the Albie Awards freshly established by the Clooney Foundation in the “Justice for Democracy Advocates” category. “Human rights group has been the voice of resistance in Belarus for nearly 30 years as it has led a brave campaign for freedom and democracy against president Lukashenka's regime. “In the run up to and following the fraudulent 2020 presidential elections, the group has paid a high price for the work; seven Viasna members have been detained on trumped up charges and both of the organization's leaders are in jail,” the organizers said.
  • On 12 May, the European Union adopted a statement on political repression and the death penalty in Belarus.
  • On May 21, declared by Viasna human rights defenders as the Day of Political Prisoners in Belarus, actions in memory of Vitold Ashurak who died in prison, and in solidarity with more than 1,200 political prisoners took place all around the world.

Political prisoners and politically motivated persecution

By late May, the number of political prisoners increased by 51 to 1,217 and continued to grow steadily.  

Viasna human rights defenders prepared a report “Criminal prosecution for political reasons. Belarus 2021–2022”, in which they analyzed lawsuits and persecution by the authorities against the country's citizens in the previous year. The purpose of the report is to raise awareness of the public, national and international institutions, and state bodies about human rights violations in 2021–2022 in Belarus. This post-electoral period is characterized by severe human rights crisis and total destruction and suppression of civil society.

The police continue to identify and arrest participants in protests against rigged presidential elections in 2020 and later political protests, as well as anti-war protests. Both those who protested in the summer of 2020 and participants in later protests are subject to reprisals. Criminal prosecutions remain widespread and pervasive, affecting more and more people and new social groups. Courts and judges are actively engaged in suppressing any political or social activism and dissent. The blatant harshness of verdicts is combined with the total closeness of important, socially significant trials. Even formally public trials sometimes are held behind closed doors in correctional facilities and police stations.

The Chairman of Viasna Mr. Ales Bialiatski, a Member of Viasna Board and the Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich, and lawyer and coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign Mr. Uladzimir Labkovich remain in custody on trumped-up charges.

Closed-door hearings of the criminal case against Viasna volunteer service coordinator Ms. Marfa Rabkova, volunteer Mr. Andrei Chapiuk, political prisoners, and another eight political prisoners continue in the Minsk Municipal Court. Judge Siarhei Khrypach is presiding over the case.

The head of Viasna Homieĺ branch Mr. Leanid Sudalenka (sentenced to three years of imprisonment) and volunteer Ms. Tatsiana Lasitsa (sentenced to 2.5 years) remain in penal colonies.

Correspondence is being intentionally and arbitrarily restricted for all imprisoned human rights defenders. In particular, after the transfer of Ms. Lasitsa to the penal colony, only her father receives letters from her. Mr. Sudalenka’s lawyer still is not allowed to see his client.

On May 5, the Saviecki District Court of Minsk commenced hearings of the criminal case against human rights activist, former head of the non-governmental organization Radzislava, political prisoner Ms. Volha Harbunova. She was charged under three parts of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (organization of riots, participation in them, and training of persons for participation in mass riots). Ms. Harbunova was also accused of organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. Judge Siarhei Shatsila considered the case. On May 6, the court found Ms. Harbunova guilty and sentenced her to three years of freedom restriction under home confinement.

Ms. Harbunova is a women's rights activist and former head of the non-governmental organization Radzislava, which helps victims of domestic violence. She was arrested on November 9, 2021, and placed in Minsk Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 1. It is known that after the detention Ms. Harbunova went on a hunger strike for almost two weeks. For several days, her relatives had no information about her. Ms. Harbunova’s lawyer was not provided with her whereabouts and she was interrogated without a lawyer present.

On May 12, the OSCE Permanent Council issued a statement on political repression and the death penalty in Belarus. The European Union condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as the Belarusian regime’s complicity in this aggression by providing its territory and infrastructure, in blatant violation of the UN Charter, international law, including the UN General Assembly Resolution No. 3314 and OSCE principles and commitments. It was noted that the ongoing internal repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus mirrors and lays the ground for the facilitation of acts of external aggression.  The EU reiterated its call on Minsk to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners and to stop violating human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Belarusian people, including by immediately putting an end to the continued wide-scale attack on independent media, journalists and other media actors in Belarus. It was reiterated that the only way to end the political crisis in Belarus is through an inclusive national dialogue and political process resulting in free and fair elections under the observation of OSCE/ODIHR. The EU called once again on Belarus to implement the Moscow Mechanism report recommendations without delay.

The EU highlighted its determination to ensure that everyone responsible for political repression in Belarus faces justice and reiterated its support to the International Accountability Platform for Belarus, co-founded by Viasna.

Violation of freedom of peaceful assembly, and suppression of freedom of expression

Criminal and administrative persecution of peaceful protesters and dissidents continues. The courts are still passing verdicts against the participants of the 2020 protests.

On May 4, 11, 11 more defendants in the “dancing protest” case were sentenced in the Court of Žabinka and Žabinka district. Judge Liudmila Rubasheuskaya sentenced them to various terms of restricted freedom.

On May 17, the Brest court considered the case of Mr. Andrei Ulasau and Ms. Yuliya Suvalka, another defendants in the ‘round dance case’.  They were accused of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. The trial was presided by a Court of Žabinka and Žabinka District Judge Viktar Novik. The verdict was three years of restricted freedom.

129 people have already been convicted in this case.

On April 4, the Lieninski District Court of Minsk handed down another sentence under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (participation in actions that grossly violate public order). Political prisoner Ms. Yana Zhurauliova was sentenced to three years in a penal colony for participating in protests in 2020. 

Mr. Viktar Fianchuk, a former director of Achova ptušak Baćkaŭščyny (APB BirdLife Belarus) was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. On May 12, 2022, the political prisoner was found guilty under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. A Maskouski district court of Minsk Judge Alena Murashka considered the case. According to the case records, “Mr. Fianchuk blocked traffic on the roadway and shouted slogans. The investigation revealed five more similar episodes committed by him.”

Police officers continue to ransack houses and apartments, detain people at their workplaces, and conduct searches and interrogations.  The authorities are stepping up various forms of pressure and repression for active citizenship and opposition to government policies. The courts are hearing administrative cases against persons arrested for displaying flags and stickers on their windows and storing them in their homes, sharing posts and commenting on social media, as well as other forms of protest activities or expression of opinion.

Viasna continues to accumulate information on administrative persecution for exercising the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression of peaceful protesters (including at anti-war rallies), as well as on arbitrary detentions for displaying symbols of protest, including in private homes and areas. Viasna documented 263 instances of administrative detention in May. At least 42 fines for protest activity were imposed, and at least 43 administrative arrest sentences were handed down. This is by no means a complete record of the number of politically motivated administrative cases. In many cases, judges secretly hold closed hearings by videoconference without announcing the date and place. This grossly violates the procedural and constitutional rights of defendants in administrative proceedings, and observers of fair justice standards are persecuted for their lawful activities.

Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code that punishes the dissemination of extremist materials is constantly being used by the Belarus authorities to repress dissent. There were 13 verdicts passed down under that Article in May. Judges punish the reposting of various socio-political materials from resources whose information products are recognized as extremist, and even the subscription to ‘extremist’ sources of information, which is regarded as storage of extremist materials, although under the Administrative Code only such storage, which aims at the further distribution of these materials, is punishable.

During May, the State List of Extremist Materials was updated with 41 new court rulings.  According to the court's decision, two books by Belarusian authors were recognized extremist, "Belarusian National Idea" by Zmitser Lukashuk and Maksim Harunou and "Dogs of Europe" by Alherd Bakharevich. The website of the Union of Poles in Belarus, nadniemnemgrodno.pl, was included in the list. A number of regional Telegram channels with social and political content were also recognized as extremist.

Viasna human rights defenders continue to monitor criminal cases related to the intolerance of the Belarus authorities to any form of expression. Criminal prosecutions under defamation articles continue. Individuals are being charged with defamation and insult of Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, government officials, and judges; as well as for desecration of state symbols (Articles 367, 368, 369, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code). Such trials are being held all over Belarus.

On May 4, the Navabielica District Court of Homieĺ passed a verdict in the criminal case of Mr. Kiryl Zhyzhenski on insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka in a comment on the Internet under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code. Judge Aliaksandr Zinchuk considered the case. In his comment, Mr. Zhyzhenski “negatively evaluates the head of state using a non-normative form of speech that publicly humiliates his authority, honor, and dignity in connection with the performance of his official duties”.  Mr. Zhyzhenski was found guilty and sentenced to 13 months of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.

On May 5, 2022, Mr. Ivan Karabelnikau was sentenced in the Lieninski District Court of Minsk. Judge Tatsiana Shotsik found him guilty under Article 341 of the Criminal Code for writing him ‘NO WAR’ on the fence and sentenced him to three months in prison. The inscription "significantly diminished the aesthetic characteristics of the concrete fence, led to the need for work to paint the previously painted concrete fence, thereby causing damage to the Autokombinat No. 2 in the amount of 14 rubles 59 kopecks".

On May 6, the Regional Court of Hrodna sentenced Ms. Sofia Sapega, a political prisoner and a student of the European Humanities University, who was charged under several articles of the Criminal Code. Judge Viktar Sianko considered the case in a closed court session. Ms. Sapega was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony under Part 3 of Article 130 (inciting hatred within a group) and Part 1 of Article 179 (illegal collection of information on private life).

In May it became known that Mr. Dzianis Barsukou had been sentenced on April 19 in Rečyca. He was found guilty under Article 368 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to two years in a medium-security penal colony. Mr. Barsukou was taken into custody in the courtroom. Judge Stanislav Ivanyutenko considered the case. Mr. Dzianis Barsukou was convicted for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka in a video posted on his YouTube channel two years ago.

On May 12, the Minsk City Court sentenced Mr. Yauhen Babak, a political prisoner and former assistant prosecutor of the Pieršamajski District Court of Minsk. Judge Valiantsina Ziankevich found him guilty under two articles of the Criminal Code, Part 1 of Article 342 (group actions that violate public order) and Part 1 of Article 130 (incitement to hatred), and sentenced him to four years of imprisonment. The trial was held behind closed doors. The political prisoner has been detained for 11 months.

The process over Ms. Zinaida Mikhniuk, a political prisoner and activist of the REP trade union, ended in the Lieninski District Court of Brest on May 18. The woman was accused of insulting the president under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code. Judge Andrei Hrushko considered the case. Ms. Mikhniuk, a trade union activist, was detained on March 25, 2022, after searches of her home and office. She was kept in pre-trial detention center No. 7 in Brest. According to one of the prisoners, Ms. Mikhniuk was accused on the basis of wiretapping, which was conducted against her as an activist of the REP trade union. The in fact closed-door trial of the political prisoner was held in the pre-trial detention center, at the place of her imprisonment.  Ms. Zinaida Mikhnyuk was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.

Mr. Mikhail Laban was convicted in a closed-door trial in the Novapolack court on May 20. He was accused of slandering Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka (Part 1 of Article 367), insulting him (Part 1 of Article 368) and insulting a government official (Article 369 of the Criminal Code). The case was considered by Judge Vitaly Lapko.

On May 20, the Court of Polack and Polack District handed down a verdict in the criminal case of Ms. Sviatlana Firsava from Vietryna. She was convicted under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for a comment posted in 2021 to the video of Aliaksandr Lukashenka's speech. The case was considered by Judge Uladzimir Biasetski.

In Baranavičy, Judge Viktoriya Pakunova considered the case of Mr. Ihar Fiodarau on charges of insulting Aliaksandr Lukashenka and sentenced him to two years in a penal colony. Mr. Ihar Fiodarau was found guilty that on February 24th, 2022 on the day of the beginning of the Russian military aggression he, being in Poland, left a comment in his Instagram page under Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka's photo that negatively assessed the latter and contained obscene language. The verdict violates even the domestic repressive and undemocratic legislation: citizens of the Republic of Belarus who have committed crimes outside of Belarus are liable under the Belarusian Criminal Code only if their deeds are recognized as crimes in the state where they have been committed and if they have not been criminally punished in this state (except for the list of crimes specified in part 1-1 of article 6 of the Criminal Code, where article 368 is not included). Polish law does not recognize the insult of the Belarusian president as a crime.

On May 19, the District Court of Vetka sentenced Mr. Kiryl Piatrenka in a criminal case on the organization and preparation of group actions that grossly violate public order (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). The result is one year of imprisonment for calling for a strike at the company where the accused worked.

These and other instances of condemnation of the exercise of freedom of expression form an atmosphere of total fear and silent protest.

Freedom of association

In May, the Chairperson of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BCDTU) Mr. Aliaksandr Yarashuk, his deputy Mr. Siarhei Antusevich, the leader of Belarusian Radio-Electrical Manufacturing Workers' Trade Union (REM) Mr. Henadz Fiadynich, activists Mr. Vatslau Areshka, Mr. Mikhail Hromau, Ms. Iryna Bud-Husaim, Mr. Miraslau Sabchuk, Ms. Yanina Malash, Mr. Vital Chychmarou, Mr. Vasil Berasniou were imprisoned as suspects and defendants on various far-fetched arbitrary grounds. In this regard, on May 13, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community issued a statement recognizing the detained representatives of independent unions as political prisoners, noting that the detention took place against the backdrop of a recent systemic persecution of independent unions and union leaders. Thus, on April 7, it became known that the KGB recognized the Belarusian Independent Trade Union REM as an extremist group. And on May 11, the Regional Court of Hrodna decided upon request of the prosecutor of Hrodna region to recognize the primary organization of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union of Hrodna Azot employees extremist, prohibit its activity and dissolute it by immediate execution of the court decision. In this regard, representatives of the human rights community demanded the immediate release of trade union activists.

Members of the trade union REP are summoned to the prosecutor's office and offered to write a statement of resignation from the union under threats of criminal liability.

The authorities evicted the primary organization of the Naftan independent trade union from its office. Representatives of the trade union say that they planned to appeal this decision in court, so they would not leave the premises.

Violation of freedom of information. Persecution of journalists and media

After a search on May 16 at the Knigauka bookstore, contact with its director Mr. Andrei Yanushkevich and employee Ms. Nasta Karnatskaya disappeared. As a result of the search, 200 books were confiscated from Mr. Yanushkevich. According to one of the pro-government Telegram channels, 15 of them will be ‘examined’. According to the law enforcers, Mr. Yanushkevich corresponded with the Office of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and the publishing house's staff ‘was involved in running some destructive Telegram channels’. On May 17, it became known that Mr. Yanushkevich and Ms. Karnatskaya were sentenced to 10 and 13 days of arrest respectively.

Mr. Yanushkevich and Ms. Karnatskaya were not released after they had served their terms.

Freedom of speech in Belarus continues to be violated in various forms. 27 media representatives have been imprisoned.

Intex-Press correspondent Mr. Yuryi Hantsarevich was detained in Baranavičyy. Pro-government Telegram channels reported that he filmed and sent to independent media and Telegram channels videos of the movement of Russian military equipment. A criminal case has been brought against Mr. Hantsarevich under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (promotion of extremist activities).

Mr. Dzmitryi Luksha, a journalist who worked for the national media company for many years and hosted the Zone X program, has been in prison for more than two months. Viasna human rights defenders learned that he was detained on March 11 after a search of his house. It is also known that recently Mr. Luksha worked as a freelance journalist for the Kazakh TV channel Khabar 24. There is information that the reason for the detention of the journalist was his last story on the channel. At first Mr. Luksha was charged with Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order). On May 17, it became known that the journalist was also charged with Article 369-1 of the Criminal Code (discrediting the Republic of Belarus).

At the end of May, it was reported that the lawyer of the detained on 18 May director of Belorusy i Rynok newspaper, Mr. Kanstantsin Zalatykh, still could not meet with his client.  His colleagues told the Belarusian Association of Journalists that it is unknown even what exactly Mr. Zalatykh is accused of.  He was detained in a criminal case under Article 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting hatred). Mr. Zalatykh’s house and the editorial office were searched. The editorial office was sealed. The journalist is currently being held in a pre-trial detention center in Žodzina.

The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Mr. Iman Gilmore, addressed an open letter to imprisoned journalists and media workers in Belarus on the Day of Political Prisoners in Belarus, reiterating the call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.

Death penalty

In April, the House of Representatives of the National Assembly adopted in two readings at once amendments to the Criminal Code, introduced by deputy Maryna Liancheuskaya, providing for the possibility of an exceptional punishment in the form of the death penalty for attempted acts of terrorism. The procedure for applying the other exceptional punishment, life imprisonment, remained unchanged.  The changes came into force on May 29. Previously, the death penalty could only be imposed for a completed offense that resulted in the death of a person.

Thus, the death penalty may now be imposed for terrorist crimes, including non-fatal crimes, as well as the preparation and attempted commission of such crimes. The public is deeply concerned that these rules will allow the death penalty to be imposed for provoked or fabricated crimes that have no serious consequences, solely to create and further maintain an even greater level of fear.

Human Rights Center Viasna, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, and the Human rights defenders against the death penalty Public campaign issued a statement about the inadmissibility of expanding the possible scope of the death penalty in Belarus.

Amnesty International published its annual report on the situation of the death penalty in the world.  It covers the judicial use of the death penalty for the period from January to December 2021. The report notes that there has been an alarming increase in executions and death sentences in the past year, as countries that usually execute the most people returned to their usual practices and the courts resumed full operations after coronavirus restrictions.

Torture. Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment

On May 21, 2021, political activist Mr. Vitold Ashurak died in Škloŭ colony No. 17 under unclear circumstances. The reported cause of death is cardiac arrest, although, according to relatives, the man did not have any complaints about his health. The Investigative Committee stated that the death of the political prisoner was not of a criminal nature and has not yet opened a criminal case. Investigators do not seek to establish the true causes of the death of Mr. Vitold Ashurak; the expertise has not been prepared in a year, and the verification is delayed.

Released political prisoners continue to note the intentional worsening of conditions for political detainees that have consequently become borderline torturous and remain harsh, degrading, and inhumane.

The colony administrations apply various disciplinary measures against political prisoners, using forced or formal violations as a pretext, as well as arbitrarily. In particular, there is information about the placement of Mr. Mikalai Dziadok, Mr. Eduard Palchys, and Mr. Viktar Babaryka in the punishment cell.

Since 4 May, an activist of the anarchist movement Mr. Mikita Yemialyanau has been kept by the administration of Mahilioŭ prison in solitary confinement. On May 24, his punishment was prolonged. Mr. Yemialyanau spent in solitary confinement for 46 consecutive days and only a week later he has been put there again for 30 days. Mr. Yemialyanau is punished for refusing to clean the yard during his walks. Since August 2021, Mr. Yemialyanau has been placed in an isolation cell or punishment cell for a total of 233 days, almost seven months in inhumane conditions with no bedding or daily walks. At the moment Mr. Yemialyanau is awaiting consideration for an appeal of his sentence under Article 411 of the Criminal Code for an additional term of imprisonment.

According to Mahilioŭ human rights defenders, on May 11 in Minsk former political prisoner Mr. Artsiom Dubski, brother of a sentenced to five years in a medium-security penal colony political prisoner Mr. Illia Dubski, was arrested and beaten.  Mr. Artsiom Dubski has been living in Poland since 2011, he came to Belarus to visit his relatives. Five days later his relatives were contacted by the investigator on the matter of Mr. Dubski’s physical injuries.  It turned out that on May 13, Mr. Dubski was taken to the emergency hospital in Minsk.  He was brought there at about 0.30 am by police officers of Centraĺny District of Minsk Police Department. Two hours later they took him out of the hospital. The man had multiple bruises and injuries on his body.

There are still reports of torture of detainees in criminal cases. Thus, political prisoner Mr. Siarhei Sakavets complained at the trial to the prosecutor that he was beaten during detention. According to him, he was beaten in the car when he was arrested at work. Five employees of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) demanded that he say who he worked for and why he kept his Instagram.  Mr. Sakavets told the court, that the officers beat him with a truncheon and fists on the head.  Then they took him out of the car and beat him in the entranceway of Mr. Sakavets’ house, demanding his Instagram password and username.  They also beat him on the ribs, and later in the police department “one beat above the knees on the muscles with his fist”.  The court and the prosecutor-state prosecutor were not convinced by this information, and no investigation into the torture was organized.

The widely known shocking cases of torture that political prisoners have brought to light remain uninvestigated.

Fair trial standards violations

The trial of the people involved in the ‘Autukhovich case’ began on May 18 in the Hrodna prison building. The defendants are Mr. Mikalai Autukhovich, priest Mr. Siarhei Rezanovich, Ms. Liubou Rezanovich, their son Mr. Pavel Rezanovich, pensioner Ms. Halina Dzerbysh, Baranavičy activist Mr. Uladzimir Hundar, activist Ms. Volha Mayorava, pensioner Ms. Iryna Melkher and her son Mr. Anton Melkher, Ms. Iryna Harachkina, Mr. Viktar Snehur, and Mr. Pavel Sava. The case is being considered by a the Regional Court of Hrodna Judge Maksim Filatau. All defendants, depending on the role, are charged under more than 10 articles of the Criminal Code. Only two relatives of the accused were allowed to attend the trial. Mr. Mikalai Autukhovich and Ms. Liubou Rezanovich are kept in standing cells in the courtroom.

On May 30, Minsk regional court pronounced the verdict against Viachaslau Maleichuk, a 37-year-old resident of Pinsk who was accused of organizing acts of terrorism in Barysaŭ and Minsk on March 25, 2021. He was charged under a number of articles of the Criminal Code: Part 1 of Article 14 and Part 1 of Article  289, Part 1 of Article  13 and Part of 3 Article 289 (preparation and attempt to commit an act of terrorism), Part 3 and Part 4 of Article  295 (illegal actions in relation to explosives), Part 1 of Article  295-3 (illegal actions in relation to objects based on the use of combustible substances). A panel of judges chaired by Judge Uladzimir Areshka sentenced him to 22 years in high-security penal colony. The trial lasted three weeks behind closed doors.

 

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