What happened to political prisoners from November 9 to 17
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 1,451 people on the list of political prisoners. Last week, human rights activists learned that seven political prisoners had served their sentences and were released: Artsiom Andrasiuk, Andrei Herasimovich, Siarhei Nepahoda, Aliaksei Vialeshka, Illia Tolkach, Leanid Ulasiuk, Stanislau Dzmitruk.
In addition, human rights activists learned about the sentences of two political prisoners in politically motivated cases:
- Zhanna Volkava – three years in a penal colony;
- Aliaksandr Fikau – three years in a penal colony.
"He is studying to be a welder, and in his spare time he does a lot of sports." News about journalist Dzmitryi Semchanka
Dzmitryi is a journalist and TV anchor, who previously held a position in the "presidential team" of the ONT TV channel. He was charged under Part 1 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting social hatred or enmity). On March 23, judge Yeuhen Pisarevich sentenced Semchanka to three years in a penal colony. Dzmitriy was transferred to Ivacevičy colony No. 22 to serve his sentence.
A source who has contacts with former prisoners of the colony shared with Svaboda the latest information about the journalist:
"He is studying to be a welder, and in his spare time he does a lot of sports. He is often seen on the sports field. He gets letters from relatives, and he also receives phone calls. He will be released in the middle of 2025."
"He's mostly fine. He's not complaining about his health." News about journalist Yauhen Merkis
The Homeĺ local historian and journalist was detained on September 13, 2022. The political prisoner was accused of creating an extremist formation or participating in it (Part 3 of Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code), as well as facilitating extremist activities (Parts 1 and 2 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code). On May 30, Yauhen was sentenced to four years in a penal colony.
Human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka received news from the journalist, writes Homeĺ Viasna:
"He's kind of fine and has a life standard for those places. He doesn't complain about his health. He is corresponding with his father (his mother died, and Yauhen is a widower); they are discussing a food transfer. Calls have not yet been allowed. In his free time he reads and watches TV. Recently, a historian (whose identity is not specified) came to the colony with a lecture."
Political prisoner Ihar Alinevich was kept in a punitive confinement cell for 20 days
This was reported by Telegram channel Pravo na Vosstaniye (The Right to Revolt).
Ihar is an activist of the anarchist movement, who was detained while crossing the border of Belarus on the night of October 28-29, 2020. He was charged under a number of articles for arson of official cars, a traffic police building, the State Committee of Expertise in the Homeĺ region. As a result, Ihar was sentenced to 20 years in a medium security colony.
Later, his punishment was increased and he was transferred to a prison security level in Žodzina. Previously, he was repeatedly placed in a disciplinary cell. In protest, he was on a hunger strike.
Political prisoner Viktoryia Kulsha was placed to a punishment cell (PKT)
Viktoryia was convicted twice in a year under Part 1 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the lawful requirements of the colony administration). The last time the court sentenced the woman to one more year of imprisonment in addition to three and a half years of the colony.
In six months at the Zarečča penal colony, Kulsha has spent at least 92 days in solitary confinement and six months in PKT. It is reported that one of the guards applied a rare choke on her and dragged her around the cell. The woman staged several hunger strikes in the colony to protest the terrible conditions, which led to her having two heart attacks.
On June 22, the woman was again transferred to the women's colony No. 24. It is known that for a long time she was kept in solitary confinement, and now she has been placed in PKT. The term and reasons for the punishment are still unknown.
The husband of political prisoner Vitaliya Bandarenka was detained immediately after a meeting with his wife. A criminal case was opened against him
According to Dissidentby, Anatol Starasvetski was detained in September immediately after a meeting with Vitaliya. He was arrested at the exit from the women's colony and placed in a detention facility. Now he is in a pre-trial detention centre, and he is charged with Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (assistance to extremist activities).
It is known that Anatol has no close relatives who can support him.
Vitaliya is the only woman convicted of participating in the Brest "mass riots". She was detained on March 1, 2021 after returning from abroad and later sentenced to four years in a penal colony. Behind bars, she married Anatol.
Ales Bialiatski became the winner of the Aliakhnovich Prize
On the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer, the Belarusian PEN and Radio Svaboda announced the winners and laureates of the Frantsishak Aliakhnovich Literary Prize for the best works written by imprisoned authors.
According to the organizers of the ceremony, this year the nominees or their relatives were offered anonymity for the sake of security and guaranteed confidentiality. For this reason, the names of some winners and laureates are hidden under pseudonyms, and the names of their works are not announced. The names will be published only when it becomes safe for the authors of the works.
Among others, the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski with Memories of the Maksim Bahdanovich Museum became the winner of the current literary prize named after Frantsishk Aliakhnovich for the best work written by an imprisoned author.
Political prisoner Alena Lazarchyk was once again placed in a punitive confinement cel
The political prisoner was detained on December 30, 2021. She was charged under four articles of the Criminal Code. On September 19, 2022, the activist of the European Belarus was sentenced to eight years in a penal colony in Mahileu. On July 22, the KGB added Alena to the "list of terrorists".
It is known that Alena is experiencing problems with her teeth in the colony and that she has lost weight. Earlier it was reported that the woman was placed in a punitive confinement cell.