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What happened to political prisoners on 14-20 November

2022 2022-11-22T14:19:42+0300 2022-11-22T14:36:17+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/koloniya_2_bobruysk.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Closed correctional facility in Belarus

Closed correctional facility in Belarus

Last week, the political prisoner count increased by 34 people and hit 1451 names. Every week the courts keep handing down new sentences and laying new charges against those already in custody. Here are the most important news related to the persecution of protesters in Belarus that the Human Rights Center Viasna received on 14-20 November.

Latest convictions

Last week, Viasna received the reports of at least 27 people convicted in court.

Persecution of trade union organizers

  • On 9 November, Homieĺ Regional Court convicted Yury Trapachou who was found guilty of establishing an extremist formation (part 1 Art. 361-1), publishing a libel about Lukashenka (part 2 Art. 367), inciting social enmity (part 1 Art. 130), as well as organizing actions that grossly violate public order (part 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). The convict worked as an assistant driver at the motive-power depot in Homieĺ, and the details of his accusation are unknown as the trial was held in camera. Yury Trapachou was sentenced to four years of imprisonment.
  • On 15 November, the trade union leader at Belaruskali mining company was sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment in Minsk Regional Court for encouraging sanctions or other actions aimed at undermining the national security of Belarus (part 1 Art. 361 of the Criminal Code). Aliaksandr Mishuk allegedly called for the establishment of a strike committee. The verdict was pronounced by Minsk Regional Court.
  • On 15 November, Yanina Malash, an activist of the Free Metal Industry Workers, was convicted by the Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk for standing in a solidarity chain in September 2020 (Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). She was sentenced to one year and six months of imprisonment.

War-related trials

  • On 11 November, the Court of Baranavičy and Baranavičy District passed the sentence upon Andrei Kasparovich who was charged with insulting the president (part 1 of Art. 368 of the Criminal Code) and desecration of the state symbols (Art. 370 of the Criminal Code). Kasparovich posted an image depicting Aliaksandr Lukashenka in the military uniform against the background of a swastika, as well as an image of a Belarusian flag inside a swastika, thus degrading the president and the national symbol. He was sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility.
  • On 14 November, the Minsk City Court passed the sentence upon the 20-year-old artist and orphan Andrei Raptunovich – he will serve four years in prison. His crime was an intention to join the Kalinowski volunteer battalion and fight on the side of Ukraine (“preparation for participation in hostilities on the territory of a foreign state”, part 1 Art. 361-3) and registration in the Victory Plan introduced by the opposition to coordinate the actions of protesters (“participation in an extremist formation”, part 3 Art. 361-1).
  • On 15 November, Homieĺ Regional Court convicted Aliaksandr Ainutdzinau for an attempt to join the Kalinowski volunteer battalion in Ukraine (preparation to participate in hostilities on the territory of another state, part 1 Art. 361-1), and driving his motorcycle without a valid license (part 1 of Art. 317-2 of the Criminal Code). He was sentenced to two years and one month of imprisonment.
  • On 16 November, Ukrainian-born Aliaksandr Patapau was convicted for insulting the president (part 1 Art. 368 of the Criminal Code) by the Viciebsk District Court. In July 2022, he posted a few insulting comments on social media after his daughter died and his niece was wounded as a result of the war in Ukraine. The political prisoner was sentenced to two years of imprisonment.

Punishment for participation in 2020 protests

  • On 15 September, Žlobin District Court convicted Viktar Charaukou for participation in a protest march on 9 August 2020 (Art. 342 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to two years of home confinement.
  • On 26 October, the Leninski District Court of Minsk convicted 32-year-old IT worker Anastasia Hunko for organizing actions that grossly violate public order (part 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). She was sentenced to two years of home confinement.
  • On 26 October, the Leninski District Court of Minsk sentenced protesters Matsvei Stasiulevich and Anastasia Marvina to three years of home confinement. They were found guilty of participating in a march in August 2020 which classifies as actions grossly violating public order (part 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code).
  • On 27 October, the Leninski District Court of Minsk passed the sentence upon spouses Vital Matsiush and Natallia Hanapolskaya who were accused of participation in a protest march in Minsk in 2020 (part. 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). Both were sentenced to three years of home confinement.
  • On 4 November, the Partyzanski District Court of Minsk convicted famous Catholic and public activist Mikalai Artsiukhou for calling to organize protests on social media (part 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). He was sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment.
  • On 10 November, the Centralny District Court of Homieĺ convicted Viktar Zviahinau for gross violation of public order (part 1 Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). Allegedly, Viktar left a few comments in a local protest Telegram channel that contained calls to gather outside the building of the Homieĺ Regional Executive Committee for a protest. Zviahinau was sentenced to two years of imprisonment.
  • On 14 November, Lida District Court convicted Dzmitry Miadzvedzki who was accused of preparation of actions that grossly violate public order by posting messages in a local Telegram chat with calls to strike, railway sabotage, and protesting (Art. 342 of the Criminal Code). He was also found guilty of insulting the president (Art. 368) and intentional damage of railway tracks (Art. 309) and sentenced to three years of imprisonment.
  • On 16 November, political prisoner Aliaksandr Kukharanka was convicted by the Leninski District Court of Minsk for organizing actions that grossly violate public order (art. 342 of the Criminal Code). He was sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open-type correctional facility.

Defamation prisoners

  • On 27 September, Valery Tumilevich was sentenced to one year and six months of imprisonment for insulting Lukashenka (Art. 368 of the Criminal Code). The verdict was passed by Lida District Court.
  • On 24 October, the Centralny District Court of Minsk sentenced Andrei Kastsiukevich to two years and six months of home confinement for insulting public officials (Art. 369) in Telegram chats. He will have to pay moral damages amounting to $3,950.
  • On 1 November, the Saviecki District Court of Homieĺ considered the case of Mikalai Katsura. He was found guilty of discrediting Belarus (Art. 369-1 of the Criminal Code) in the “Zeltser case” and was sentenced to one year and six months of imprisonment and a $1,260 fine.
  • On 4 November, Hrodna Regional Court passed a harsh sentence on 20-year-old Siarhei Rabtsau who was accused of inciting social enmity (part 1 Art. 130), mass riots (part 1 Art. 293), as well as insulting (part 1 Art. 368) and publishing a libel (part 1 Art. 367) about Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Judge Rachynski ruled to sentence the young man to six years and six months of imprisonment.
  • On 14 November, Minsk Regional Court convicted Mikhail Niamtsou for inciting social enmity (part 1 Art. 130) and insulting the president (part 1 Art. 368). The former accusation is connected with his negative comment regarding the Russian army that stepped into Kazakhstan to suppress the uprising in February 2022. Mikhail was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.
  • On 17 November, retired Belarusian language teacher Ema Stsepulionak was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for insulting Lukashenka (Art. 368) and a public official (Art. 369 of the Criminal Code). She left a few comments after the murder of Andrei Zeltser by KGB officers.

Social enmity and extremism cases

  • On 15 November, Homieĺ Regional Court sentenced 26-year-old Barys Kim to four years and six months of imprisonment for inciting social enmity (part 1 Art. 130) and establishment or participation in an extremist formation whose activities were aimed at the rehabilitation of Nazism (part 1 Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code). The details of the case are to be confirmed.
  • On 16 November, Krystsina Charankova from Mazyr was found guilty of inciting social enmity to police officers (part 1 Art. 130) and sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment. The reason for the accusation were the woman’s derogatory comments on her Instagram page.
  • On 16 November, trade union leader Andrei Khanevich was sentenced to five years in prison under Art. 369-1 (discrediting the Republic of Belarus) and Art. 361-4 (promotion of extremist activity) of the Criminal Code. The case was considered by Hrodna Regional Court. Andrei was charged with talking to a Belsat journalist and “communicating some information”. Andrei’s phone was tapped and the conversations were recorded by special services.
  • On 18 November, Hrodna District Court passed the sentence upon Alesia Bunevich – three years of imprisonment. She was tried behind closed doors for conspiring to illegally cross the national border (part 3 Art. 371 of the Criminal Code). Initially, her actions were classified as conspiring to commit a terrorist attack (Art. 298).

Other news

  • Artist Ales Pushkin is transferred to prison for 1.5 years due to rule violations in the correctional facility.
  • Convicted in the "Tikhanouski case" Artsiom Sakau was transferred to Mahilioŭ prison after his punishment was upgraded.
  • Blogger Dzmitry Tsimafeyeu from Baranavičy is being transferred from an open-type to a closed correctional facility for 3.5 months.
  • The case of Hrodna journalist and member of the Union of Poles in Belarus Andrzej Poczobut will be heard in the Hrodna Regional Court on 28 November. Andrei is charged with inciting national enmity and rehabilitating Nazism and encouraging the imposition of sanctions on Belarus.

Released

Political prisoners Yauhen Kisleika, Vadzim Khizhniakou, and Mikhail Yefimovich completed their sentences and were released.

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