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What happened to political prisoners between November 2 and 9

2023 2023-11-09T14:55:51+0300 2023-11-09T14:59:16+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

For over three years, the security forces in Belarus have been relentlessly carrying out mass repressions. Each week, the number of political prisoners increases, and human rights defenders receive daily updates about detainees' terrible conditions, pressure from the prison administration, and the worsening health of political prisoners in custody. Viasna provides a weekly overview of the latest news on political prisoners.

At the moment, there are 1,460 people on the list of political prisoners. Last week, human rights activists learned that eight political prisoners had served their sentences and were released: Yahor Zhukau, Uladzislau Verasau, Aliaksandr Zhykharevich, Siarhei Bekman, Aliaksei Chekel, Aliaksandr Kasianchuk, Herman Bykhau, Siarhei Samul.

In addition, human rights activists learned about the sentences of two political prisoners in politically motivated cases: 

Human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was placed in a punishment cell (PKT) in the colony 

Political prisoner, chairman of Viasna Human Rights Center, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize-2022, sentenced to 10 years in prison, Ales Bialiatski was placed to a punishment cell in the colony for fabricated reasons. Moreover, for a long time the human rights defender has not been allowed to see a lawyer.

This was announced by his wife Natallia Pinchuk during her speech in Strasbourg at the World Forum for Democracy-2023.

Today, to achieve unconditional freedom for Ales Bialiatski, for all Belarusian political prisoners, to achieve freedom for Belarus means to defend the peaceful future of Belarus. And of Ukraine, and of our region, and therefore the world as a whole. Freedom is peace."

We remind you that on May 2 it became known that the human rights defender was transferred from pre-trial detention center-1 to correctional colony No. 9 in Horki. There he is engaged in woodworking.

Political prisoner Mikhail Lapunou was arrested for the seventh time in a row. He has been kept in a temporary detention facility for three months

Mikhail Lapunou is the father of political prisoner Mikita Zalatarou — he was supposed to be released the other day, but this will not happen, because he was arrested again. On November 3, the Court of the Central District of Homeĺ held another trial against him under Part 2 of Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code (distribution of extremist materials). Judge Viktar Kazachok sentenced him to 15 more days of detention, writes Homeĺ Viasna.

Mikhail was detained on August 8 and has been continuously held in a temporary detention facility since then. In total, the man will spend more than three months behind bars.

Lapunou's son, Mikita Zalatarou, is one of the youngest detainees as a result of the 2020 protests. The total sentence for him was four and a half years in an educational colony.

Journalist Ales Liubianchuk started having problems with his spine behind bars

The journalist was detained on May 26 in the village of Kryvičy, Iŭye district. He was accused of participating in an extremist formation. On October 27, the court sentenced the political prisoner to three years in a penal colony.

In early February, the political prisoner was sent to Mahileŭ colony No. 15. But upon arrival, the administration of the colony deprived him of parcels, care packages, and visits for three months.

Back in 2022, the political prisoner's spine disease worsened, an informed source told Radio Svaboda about Liubianchuk:

"As far as one can tell, it is difficult for him even to do sports, i. e. the thing that is the only remedy there. He's quite upset about it."

Ales Liubianchuk works on stripping wires from insulation.

Political prisoner Maksim Zinevich is under pressure in the Navapolack colony

The political prisoner was detained on August 19, 2020 as part of a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (Participation in mass riots). In the Leninski Court of Brest on May 21, 2021, Zinevich was sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment in a medium security penal colony. Maksim was wounded in the leg by a rubber bullet during a protest action on August 10 in Brest.

He is serving his term in Navapolack colony No. 1. It is known that the administration of the colony is putting pressure on him. According to the MAYDAY TEAM, books, cigarettes, and even food were taken away from Maksim. In addition, every now and then the political prisoner is placed in a punitive confinement cell.

It is also reported that all political prisoners who were registered as prone to "extremism and destructive activities" were deprived of calls for the whole of November.

Former KGB lieutenant colonel Aliaksei Khralovich was transferred to prison 

Aliaksei used to be a lieutenant colonel of the KGB. In the Minsk City Court on March 30, 2022, he was sentenced to 10 years in a medium security penal colony and a fine of 18500 roubles under Part 2 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code (Treason to the state). He is also deprived of his military rank.

According to human rights activists, on October 24, a trial was held in Navapolack to replace Aliaksei's custodial level with a prison one. By the decision of judge Tatsiana Khrypach, the political prisoner was transferred to a prison custodial level.

Political prisoner Andrei Pachobut received a Polish human rights prize  

The 20th ceremony of giving the Polish Sérgio Vieira de Mello Award, named after a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, took place in Krakow.

The award was established in 2003 by Villa Decius, a cultural and educational society. It is awarded to people and non-governmental organizations for their activities in human rights protection, as well as popularization of the idea of peaceful coexistence and cooperation of various societies, religions, and cultures.

Andrei Pachobut, a journalist, a figure of the Polish minority in Belarus, a political prisoner, became the winner of the honorary award, writes Polish Radio.

"It's no secret that he was offered release in exchange for emigration to Poland, but Andrei did not make any deals with the regime. This is an example of a man who does not hesitate even in the face of his tormentors."

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