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#FreeViasna: Latest news about jailed Viasna human rights defenders

2022 2022-12-01T12:38:46+0300 2022-12-01T12:39:36+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On September 17, #FreeViasna campaign of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna members was launched. Here’s the latest news about them.

Viasna case sent to court

The Prosecutor’s Office received the criminal case against Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovic, and Uladzimir Labkovich, according to the Investigative Committee. It is known that the case has already gone to court from the Prosecutor General's Office.

Zmitser Salauyou, another defendant in this case, has left Belarus and will be tried in absentia. Human rights defenders are accused of smuggling under Part 4 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code and financing group actions that grossly violate the public order under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. A court date has not yet been set. 

Meanwhile, Bialiatski’s lawyer Viktar Matskevich was summoned to the Qualification Commission for an early re-attestation on December 1. 

Warsaw Film Festival screening in solidarity with Ales Bialiatski

On November 20, at Bulbamovie Belarus film festival, viewers of the movie Courage directed by Aliaksei Paluyan showed solidarity with those repressed in Belarus. All of them hold Ales Bialiatski's photo, who has been kept in pre-trial detention for 16 months for his human rights activities.


 “We started this campaign in Berlin with portraits of 450 prisoners. After a couple of months, there were no more cinemas that could accommodate images of all Belarusian political prisoners. So this year we decided to focus on one person,” said Aliaksei Paluyan.


Several diplomatic corps members in Minsk met with Bialiatski’s wife Natallia Pinchuk and the mother of the political prisoner Ihar Alinevich Valiantsina Alinevich.

“Diplomats praised the work of Ales Bialiatski in defense of democracy and peaceful development in Belarus,” reads the Facebook page of the Swedish Embassy in Minsk. 

Solidarity actions for Bialiatski's 500 days in jail took place in three cities

In Edinburgh (Scotland), Zurich (Switzerland), and The Hague (Netherlands) actions in support of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, human rights defender Ales Bialiatski and all political prisoners in Belarus were held. The event was held by the German-Swiss organization Libereco—Partnership for Human Rights and was timed to the 500 days of imprisonment of the head of Viasna.

Solidarity Action in Edinburgh, November 25, 2022.
Solidarity action in Zurich, November 25, 2022.
Solidarity action in The Hague, November 25, 2022.

Valiantsin Stefanovic: “I also love to travel around Belarus” 

Political prisoner Valiantsin Stefanovic received many photos from people traveling around Belarus. Viasna human rights defender thanked them in a reply letter from prison.

"Thank you very much for the wonderful photos! I also love to travel around Belarus and tried to visit different interesting places whenever I could. I especially liked to travel with children.

There is no news from the lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich

Marfa Rabkova has been behind bars for 26 months

The coordinator of Viasna’s volunteer network Marfa Rabkova was detained on September 17, 2020. The human rights defender was charged under a number of articles of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Former political prisoner Volha Rytus briefly encountered Marfa Rabkova in jail and shared her impression in a recent interview with Most magazine:

“I didn't recognize her at first, because she had changed a lot, she had lost a lot of weight, maybe 20 kilos.

She is so pure, beautiful as if she had come down from heaven, though—which I found out later—she had been imprisoned for two years. Marfa … spoke in short phrases. But there was so much support, and strength in her words.

[...] I had thoughts like why did I do all this, I have children, I have a family, I can't stand it. After I met Marfa, I realized: no, I will go this way till the end, and I want to be a decent person—so that this system doesn't crush me, that I survive in their world and get something out of it.”

There is no news from Viasna volunteer Andrei Chapiuk.  

Human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka is under pressure from the colony administration

Rights campaigner Leanid Sudalenka has been in jail since January 27. Sudalenka's wife shared his latest news:

No letters are given to him. Maybe only letters from me reach him once a month. Since September he has been declared a “violator” with all the consequences: deprivation of a short visit, deprivation of the right to store at the store.  ... Leanid keeps filing appeals in his case because certain circumstances became known, but all to no avail under the current government.”

On November 3, 2021, Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsiana Lasitsa were sentenced to three and two and a half years in prison respectively. The trial has been held in private. In September, Lasitsa was released on pardon.


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