49 political prisoners were released in October, 47 of them completing their sentence
At the moment, there are 1,462 political prisoners in Belarus, and their number is increasing weekly. At the same time, every month several dozen political prisoners leave their places of detention either after the expiration of the term, or after the trial before being sent to an open-type correctional institution or at the beginning of their home confinement. According to Viasna, at least 49 political prisoners were released in October: 47 people served their sentences in full, 7 of whom were women, and two people were sentenced to home confinement and released from pre-trial detention centers. Viasna recounts their cases and terms in the monthly digest.
47 political prisoners have served their sentences in full and have been released
We publish the stories of some of them.
Political prisoner Siarhei Antusevich – 1 year, 6 months, and 13 days in prison
Siarhei is the deputy chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, and for almost 10 years he was the head of an independent trade union Hrodna Azot. The political prisoner was detained on April 19, 2022 and placed in the KGB pre-trial detention center.
He was charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (group actions grossly violating public order).
On December 20, 2022, the Minsk City Court began considering the case. On December 26, a verdict was passed: Siarhei Antusevich received 2 years of imprisonment in a general security penal colony. The political prisoner served his term in colony No. 15. He was released on October 31, having fully served his term.
Political prisoner Anatol Puhach – 1 year and 11 days in prison
The man was detained on December 13, the day after his return from Poland. He came to Belarus for examination, because he had been diagnosed with an oncological disease abroad. He was accused of insulting Lukashenka under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code. The case was considered by judge Aksana Litvinchyk.
According to the case materials, the man "after watching videos containing an insult to the president, posted these videos on his page on social media, thereby humiliating the honor and dignity of Aliaksandr Lukashenka". The court sentenced Puhach to 1 year in a general security penal colony.
Anatol served his jail time in penal colony No. 1 in Navapolack. According to Brest Viasna, he was released on October 23.
Five political prisoners from Minsk – more than 7 months in prison
In the Court of the Frunzenski District of Minsk on July 10, five people were convicted at once for participating in post-election protests: Uladzimir Hanusevich, Aliaksandr Konanau, Albert Harbuz, Siarhei Hlinski, Maksim Stashulionak. They were found guilty under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code. Judge Yuliya Krepskaya sentenced them to a year in a general security penal colony. All were in custody before the trial.
Maksim Stashulionak was detained in early February 2023 after returning to Belarus. In 2020, Maksim worked as a firefighter and warned the residents of the Kaskad housing complex that the police was going to remove their national flag. After that, he was fired.
Hanusevich is a native of Homeĺ, chief of the second department of the fire rescue unit No. 26 of the Frunzenski district of Minsk.
All political prisoners have served their time in full and were released in October.
Political prisoner Aksana Aliakseyeva – 1 year, 2 months, and 25 days in prison
Aksana was detained together with other leaders of the Minsk city organization of the United Civil Party on July 27, 2022. It is known that during the search, the security forces knocked down the door to her apartment.
On November 3, 2022, the Peršamaiski District Court of Minsk handed down sentences in a criminal case against three leaders of the United Civil Party: Aliakseyeva received 1.5 years of imprisonment, Mikalai Kazlou received 2.5 years of imprisonment, and Antanina Kavaliova received 1 year of imprisonment. The political prisoners were accused of participating in "actions that grossly violate public order" by participating in the "March of the New Belarus" on August 23, 2020. (Article 342 of the Criminal Code).
According to Anatol Liabedzka, Aksana was released from Homeĺ colony No. 4 today, having fully served her sentence.
Political prisoner Mia Mitkevich – 2 years, 8 months, and 23 days in prison
Mia is a social and cultural manager from Minsk, art director of the Nuestro Amor event agency. She also has her own business in film production.
Mitkevich was accused of inciting social hatred on the basis of belonging to a certain social group under Part 1 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code. On May 20, 2021, the Minsk City Court sentenced her to 3 years in a general security penal colony.
On October 11, Mia was released from Homeĺ colony No. 4, having fully served her sentence. She served 955 days.
Political prisoner Ina Panova – 1 year, 2 months, and 29 days in prison
In the Leninski District Court of Minsk on October 31, 2022, a political prisoner was sentenced to a year and a half in a penal colony under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (active participation in actions grossly violating public order). It is known that the woman is raising four children.
During the meeting, Ina's lawyer insisted that the woman plead guilty. The political prisoner accepted the defense position, but at the same time disputed her participation in the protest action. The prosecutor regarded her words as not admitting guilt. The fact that Ina was on the march with her child was regarded by the prosecution as aggravating circumstances.
The woman served her sentence in Homeĺ women's colony No. 4. She was released from there the other day, having fully served her sentence.
Political prisoner Arsen Chyzhyk – 2 years and 6 days in prison
Arsen was detained in Homeĺ in a criminal case initiated for comments on the Internet after the deaths of KGB officer Dzmitryi Fedasiuk and IT specialist Andrei Zeltser.
On November 21, 2022, he was sentenced to two years and six months of imprisonment in a general security penal colony. The case was considered by judge Ruslan Tsaruk.
On the night of October 5, the political prisoner was released
Political prisoner Andrei Chudzinau – 1 year, 9 months, and 11 days in prison
In the Kastryčnicki District Court of Minsk on March 17, 2022, Andrei was sentenced to two years in a general security penal colony. He was charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code for participating in the "March of the New Belarus " on August 23, 2020. The main and only proof of Chudzinau's guilt was a photo on his phone, which was previously taken away by police officers.
It is known that a political prisoner was put under pressure and placed in a punitive confinement cell. In November 2022, he was transferred to a prison custody level in Mahileu.
On October 13, Andrei was released, having fully served his sentence.
Political prisoners Ryta Zotova and Mikita Khilkevich – 1 year, 9 months, and 15 days in prison
They were denounced and then detained on August 9, 2021 for spreading protest stickers and leaflets in Čečersk. But later they were released on their own recognizance. On December 28, 2021, they were detained again and charged under Article 341 of the Criminal Code (desecration of buildings and damage to property) and Article 342 of the Criminal Code (active participation in actions grossly violating public order).
In March 2022, the court sentenced them to two years in a penal colony. Ryta served time in Homeĺ women's colony No. 4, and Mikita — in Ivatsevičy colony No. 22. According to Homeĺ Viasna, they have fully served their sentences and were released.
Political prisoner Anton Yakavuk – 1 year and 12 days in prison
Anton is a resident of Brest. He is fond of football and from 2015 to 2019 he played in the Zmena amateur club. He was detained on September 29, 2022 at his home on a criminal case of insulting Lukashenka (Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code).
It is known that Anton posted a video with Lukashenka on social media, which was accompanied by one "insulting" word. For this, judge Maryna Skalkovich sentenced him to 1 year of imprisonment in a general security penal colony.
It is known that the political prisoner got married in the colony.
Two political prisoners were released after the trial
In September, the Belarusian courts in the absolute majority sentenced political prisoners to imprisonment. Only two women were released from pre-trial detention facilities after the trials being sentenced to home confinement. But these data may be incomplete, since not all the results of the trials of political prisoners are yet known to human rights defenders. These are: