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Political prisoners in Belarus in 2022. Infographics

2023 2023-01-09T19:05:21+0300 2023-01-09T19:39:34+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The totalitarian repressive machinery remains operating in Belarus. In 2022, arrests, torture, and criminal proceedings on political grounds against Belarusians continued. The number of political prisoners also increased accordingly. Viasna shares figures on political prisoners for 2022.

By the end of 2022, there were 1,446 political prisoners in Belarus; 889 people were recognized as political prisoners by the human rights community of Belarus during the year.

The majority of political prisoners are men, 1,284 of them. There were 162 women political prisoners behind bars at the end of the year.

The largest number of political prisoners serve their sentences in penal colonies, 532 people. Another 258 people are in open-type penal facilities. Six people serve their time in juvenile colonies. Thirty-eight political prisoners had their conditions worsened and were transferred from colonies to supermax prisons.

By the end of 2022, 460 people were in pretrial detention. Eduard Babaryka has the most prolonged period of detention without trial—as of December 31, he spent 927 days in custody (2 years, 6 months, and 14 days).

Two more people are under house arrest. Several political prisoners served administrative imprisonment terms in temporary detention centers.

The whereabouts of at least 145 political prisoners are not known to Viasna human rights activists.

Of the total number of political prisoners, 70 people were sentenced to 10 or more years in jail. Thus, 27 people were sentenced to terms of 10 to 12 years, 17 people received 13 to 15 years in jail, 15 more were sentenced to 16 to 19 years, and 10 people were sentenced to 20 to 23 years in prison. Mikalai Autukhovich received the most severe punishment, the maximum term of 25 years. 

At the end of 2022, there were at least 15 married couples among political prisoners who were sentenced to prison terms or were under investigation in a pre-trial detention center.

Last year, among those jailed for political reasons were: 

  • 108 cultural figures
  • 32 media professionals 
  • 6 lawyers
  • 6 human rights defenders from Viasna 

In 2022, the head of the Viasna Homieĺ branch Leanid Sudalenka began to serve his 3-year jail term in penal colony No. 3. In September, the coordinator of the Viasna volunteer service Marfa Rabkova was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment, and volunteer Andrei Chapiuk received 6 years. 

Viasna Chairman Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovic, and lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich are behind bars. On January 5, 2023, the trial of human rights defenders commenced. They face 7 to 12 years of imprisonment. 

At least 25 retired citizens are imprisoned. The oldest of them, Natalia Taran, 74, was sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment under several defamation articles of the Criminal Code. 

Also, 74 people with disabilities or severe illnesses are held in appalling conditions in custody.  

In 2022, at least 120 people were kept behind bars in connection with the Zeltser case. A significant part of them was sentenced to imprisonment for terms ranging from 18 months years to six and a half years. 

The KGB put at least 148 political prisoners on the so-called “list of terrorists”.

Since the first verdicts on politically motivated criminal cases, at least 253 prisoners have been released after fully serving their time.

Behind every number there is a personal story of those imprisoned, their families and friends They need our support and solidarity!

List of all political prisoners

Support has no boundaries: how to write letters to political prisoners if you are outside of Belarus

You wake up, scroll your news feed, reply to your friends in messengers, go to a coffee shop, talk to your neighbors while walking — unlimited number of communications with the outside world in just one morning. Your letter and conversations with a lawyer — these are the only ways to communicate with the outside world for a political prisoner. That is why it is important for prisoners to have this connection and support.


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