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Human rights defender Nasta Loiko being tried in Minsk

2023 2023-06-14T15:09:49+0300 2023-06-14T15:09:49+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Nasta Loika. Courtesy photo: a friend of Nasta

Nasta Loika. Courtesy photo: a friend of Nasta

On June 13, 2023, the trial of Nasta Loiko, a human rights defender, commenced. She was accused of “inciting hatred” and “insulting the government officials” and now faces up to 12 years in prison. The basis for the criminal case is the report “Persecution of Anarchists, Antifascists, Leftists, and Social Activists in Belarus (2017 – August 2018)”, which took a critical stance on the actions of law enforcement agencies. The case is presided over by Judge Alena Shylko, with the state prosecution represented by Volha Dzindzelevich. The hearing will be closed to the public.

Nasta Loiko is a prominent Belarusian human rights advocate. She is actively involved in human rights work, mainly focusing on combating discrimination and promoting equality, ensuring fair judicial proceedings, protecting the rights of foreigners and stateless individuals, and advocating for informal education in human rights. Loiko is a recognized expert in freedom of assembly, legal mechanisms for human rights protection, court process monitoring, volunteer coordination, and the fight against hate speech and hate crimes.


She was first detained on September 6, 2022, near the courtroom where the local anarchists of the Revolutionary Action movement were being tried. The human rights defender was initially released but was soon arrested again after a house search. A “repentance video” of Loiko then appeared on pro-government telegram channels, in which she “confesses” to allegedly “receiving funding from foreign organizations.” Nasta described her arrest and the search as part of a criminal case in a letter to her dog Erika:

“As a farewell (in justification), I want to tell you something about the day of our last meeting, October 28, 2022. Thirty minutes after I left the house at 3:30 PM, I was standing in a corridor on Revaliucyjnaja Street, 3, spread-eagled against the wall (this is called a ‘swallow’), in addition to punches in the back and the sound of a taser, they told me that they would have to kill you—officer Mikalai Talchkou did not want to risk his men”. But then, supposedly, the AMAP [riot police] officers offered another option—to give me 20 seconds to get you into the bathroom. I was crying and scared; people with machine guns walked up the stairs with me. They re-fastened my handcuffs from behind in front of my torso. My hands were shaking as I opened the door. Deep breathing only helped a little, and I expected that you would immediately sense danger in the presence of evil people. Still, you came to the corridor to me and happily wagged your tail. In handcuffs, I couldn’t even grab your collar. I just opened the bathroom door and begged you to go in there...”

Tortures in detention

In total, Loiko spent 60 days at the Akrescina detention facility; she was given 15 days of arrest four times in a row. At one of the administrative courts, Nasts talked about the torture: an officer of GUBOPiK hit her with a taser, and one of the employees of the Central Internal Affairs Department took her out to the inner yard and left her without warm clothes for several hours because she wrote a complaint. It later became known that Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) officers tased Nasta because she forgot her cloud password for Telegram. Russian journalist Yekaterina Yanshina, who spent 15 days at Akrescina, told Viasna about this.

“...As I was told later, the woman, who simply forgot her password, was tortured with electric shocks. They were firing a stun gun at her heel to avoid leaving marks. It was the human rights activist Anastasiya Loika. I was told this story after I refused to give my passwords. And then I wondered how many zaps I would take before breaking up and giving them the passwords.”

In the yard of the Center for Isolation of Offenders, Loiko was left without clothes as a punishment for a filed complaint, as one of the former detainees reported to Viasna.

“Once, she wanted to go on a hunger strike, but she was not given paper and a pen to write a statement. GUBOPiK promised her a criminal case. They immediately said that they would plant administrative cases and look for how to imprison her for a long time,” the witness said.

At Detention Center No. 1, Nasta Loiko learns French and Polish and reads extensively. Just as before her detention, she continues to eat only vegan food. It is known that Nasta suffers from stomach problems behind bars. She cannot eat the food provided in the detention center. She has to rely on what she gets from the outside world through packages and what can be purchased at the prison store.

“Packages come, for example, from Germany, from people she once provided legal aid to. Because she also worked with foreigners who were in transit to Europe. And there were clients, for example, political activists from Tajikistan, who received refugee status in Germany, and they sent her a package from there. The packages help with nutrition and make life somewhat bearable,” Nasta’s colleague, human rights defender Enira Bronitskaya, told Mediazone.

Recognition and support

Last year, Nasta Loiko was awarded the Belarusian Human Rights Community Award for 2022 in the “Human Rights Defender of the Year” category.

On December 17, 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee registered a complaint from Nasta Loiko. While the Committee considers the case, the state is obligated to provide the human rights defender with immediate access to independent medical care and ensure the preservation of her life and health, both physical and mental, including by providing appropriate seasonal clothing.

Well-known international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a partnership of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)), have issued statements calling for the release of Nasta Loiko.

On the eve of the trial, colleagues and friends of Nasta from the Human Constanta team issued a statement in which they once again called for the release of the human rights defender:

“We strongly condemn the politically motivated trial against Anastasia Loika, the purpose of which is to punish her for her long-term human rights activities and conceal the facts of human rights violations by the Belarusian regime. We demand the immediate release of Anastasia Loika and all political prisoners, as well as the cessation of permanent repressions accompanied by human rights violations.”


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