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In April, 43 people criminally convicted in political cases

2023 2023-05-05T17:02:52+0300 2023-05-05T17:02:52+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Former presidential candidate Andrey Dzmitryeu in court

Former presidential candidate Andrey Dzmitryeu in court

In April, the Viasna Human Rights Center observed a continuing trend toward criminal prosecution and convictions of citizens for political reasons. According to the available data, about 123 people were repressed during the past month. Activists have information about at least 43 citizens convicted in April, of which 11 are women and 32 are men.

In one case, a conviction was issued in absentia. In the case of nine TUT.BY defendants, criminal prosecution was terminated due to their pardoning. The criminal prosecution against the chairman of the Union of Poles was terminated on rehabilitative grounds, due to the lack of elements of a crime. Criminal prosecution of the TUT.BY defendants and the Union of Poles lasted since the spring of 2021. The Supreme Court, on appeal, reduced the punishment for a champion of the Belarusian language and an administrator of a Telegram channel dedicated to this subject, who was convicted for creating an extremist formation (or participating in it), from three years of imprisonment to three years of restricted freedom with referral to a correctional facility.

In the structure of citizen persecution for defamatory offenses, there is a trend of primarily pursuing citizens under the article that provides liability for insulting the president (Article 368 of the Criminal Code). Among the sharply negative trends, it is worth noting the conviction of previously repressed citizens for malicious disobedience to the requirements of the penal institution administration (Article 411 of the Criminal Code) – in April, three political prisoners had additional sentences added under this article. At the same time, the number of cases considered by courts in this category involving convicts without political motives does not exceed one or two cases throughout the republic per month. Human rights defenders record an increasing number of cases of repeated and subsequent criminal prosecution of citizens previously repressed for political motives.

In the context of an observed trend of harsher penalties for citizens convicted on politically motivated charges, not related to imprisonment and restriction of freedom with referral to a penal institution, there is a tendency to use the full range of repressive measures within the criminal liability framework to worsen the legal status of the repressed.

April sentences in numbers:

  • 28 people were sentenced to a total of 89 years and 3 months of imprisonment
  • 2 people were sentenced to a total of 3 years of freedom restriction in an open penitentiary;
  • 13 people were sentenced to a total of 34 years under home confinement
  • 2 people were fined a total of 9,250 Belarusian rubles (approx. $3,650) as an additional punishment to imprisonment and home confinement

In April, the courts handed down custodial sentences in 65,12% of all cases. Another 4,65% of the sentences involved restriction of freedom in open-type facilities. Home confinement was ordered in 30,23% of all cases.

Thus, various types of custodial and freedom-restricting sentences were handed down in all politically motivated trials in April. 


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