What happened to political prisoners between November 17 and 27
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.
13 people were recognized as political prisoners over the past week. At the moment, there are 1,451 people on the list of political prisoners. In addition, human rights activists learned that 11 political prisoners had served their sentences and were released: Barys Kaizer, Dzmitryi Kaneuski, Yuryi Lahutsin, Andrei Matsonka, Dzmitryi Bunevich, Yuryi Tserashkevich, Ruslan Mikhailau, Pavel Larchyk, Siarhei Kliuchanski, Siarhei Sakun, and Aliaksandr Fralou.
In addition, human rights activists learned about the verdict in the politically motivated case of political prisoner Alena Dzmitryeva — three years of home confinement.
Political prisoner Aliaksandr Frantskevich placed in a punishment cell (PKT), awaiting transfer to another colony
Aliaksandr is an activist of the anarchist movement and a person involved in the Revolutionary action case, sentenced to 16 years and 9 months in a high security colony.
The political prisoner was sent to Ivatsevičy colony No. 5 in the middle of March to serve his term. Recently it became known that this colony will be closed, and a labour therapy centre will open instead. Therefore, now the political prisoner is waiting for transfer to another facility.
According to human rights activists, in September, Aliaksandr was placed in a PKT for six months. In addition, in total, the political prisoner was held in solitary confinement for 160 days.
The date of the appeal against the verdict against Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk became known
On October 9, judge Stanislau Ivaniutsenka found the woman guilty of "malicious disobedience to the administration of the colony" (Part 2 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced her to one more year of the colony in addition to three years. At the first court hearing, she reported beatings in the Zarečanskaya colony: her face and internal organs were severely damaged.
Palina is a public activist from Brest, who was detained on January 3, 2021. The mother of two minor sons was convicted under a number of articles of the Criminal Code. At the end of February 2022, a criminal case was opened against the political prisoner under Part 2 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code, and later she was sentenced to another year in prison.
According to Brest Viasna, the Homeĺ Regional Court will consider the appeal of the political prisoner on December 15.
An appeal against Eduard Babaryka's verdict will be held in the Supreme Court on November 27
On July 5, the Minsk Regional Court handed down a verdict in the Babaryka case: 8 years in a medium security penal colony. At the same time, the time of his detention in the KGB pre-trial detention center until December 14, 2021 on the original charge was not counted.
He was found guilty under Part 3 of Article 130 (inciting other social hatred), Paragraph 6 of Article 16 and Part 1 of Article 342 (aiding in organizing actions that grossly violate public order) and Part 2 of Article 243 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code.
According to the schedule, the Supreme Court began consideration of Eduard's appeal on November 27. The decision will be made by a judicial panel chaired by judge Ihar Bukat.
The creator of the MozgON Youtube channel will be tried again for "malicious disobedience to the administration of the colony"
43-year-old Uladzimir Tsyhanovich was transferred to a new colony only three months ago after his last sentence: in April he was sentenced to another year in prison. During this time, the administration of Vaŭkavysk colony No. 11 initiated the second consecutive criminal case under Part 2 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the requirements of the colony administration).
Now the political prisoner can get two more years of imprisonment to 16 years in a penal colony. Uladzimir will be tried on November 30 in Vaŭkavysk.
The case of former journalist Andrei Tolchyn transferred to the prosecutor's office
The investigators transferred the criminal case against the former freelance videographer to the prosecutor's office for referral to court. As it became known to Belarusian Association of Journalists, Andrei is accused under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist formation or participation in it).
Recall that the security forces detained Andrei at the end of September. The next day after the arrest, a search was conducted in the apartment where the man lived with his wife. Investigators confiscated his computer equipment and other digital devices. They explained to his wife that the search was allegedly carried out as part of a case on extremism.
Tolchyn has been repeatedly detained and tried for journalistic activities since 2017. After the protests of 2020, the journalist decided to leave the profession. It is known that the political prisoner suffers from hypertension and has problems with his legs.
Political prisoner Siarhei Tratsiuk transferred to a prison security level
Siarhei is a resident of Brest; he worked as a turner before his imprisonment. Siarhei has a minor daughter. He was convicted under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in mass riots) for participating in protests in Brest in August 2020.
On November 8, 2021, in the Leninski District Court of Brest, Siarhei was sentenced to 4 years in a medium security penal colony. Since January 2022, Siarhei has been serving time in Ivatsevičy colony No. 22.
On July 7, a court was held in Ivatsevičy to change the security level of his imprisonment. By the decision of the judge Vasil Aurusevich, he was transferred to the prison security level in Mahileŭ prison No. 4 before the expiration of his term, writes Brest Viasna.
"He's in solitary confinement, learning German and Arabic." Latest news about Mikola Dziadok
A source informed about Mikola spoke with Svaboda about the conditions he was in.
"He's in solitary confinement. He's allowed to have walks regularly, so he doesn't complain about it. He has headaches and health problems with his stomach. But he's trying to deal with them. A medical parcel was transfered to him without any problems. He doesn't complain about food either."
Now he is learning German and Arabic, and does not forget about English. The books that he manages to order are mostly dictionaries, guides, and textbooks. Arabic is not just a hobby for him, but also a professional occupation, since his thesis at European Humanities University was devoted to politics in the Arab Middle East. When Mikola visited Israel and Jordan, he talked with Arabs in their native language. Now, probably, his knowledge of Arabic has become even greater."
Political prisoner Ryhor Kastusiou placed in PKT
This was announced on Facebook by the son-in-law of the chairman of the BPF Party Dzmitryi Antonchyk.
"Ryhor Kastusiou has been placed in PKT. Most likely on November 11," he wrote.
Recall that Kastusiou was sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony. There, Ryhor's health problems worsened: he was diagnosed with cancer.
Political prisoner Pavel Vinahradau spent six months in solitary confinement
This was reported by his wife Sviatlana on Facebook.
"His mind is clear; he is young, handsome, and smart — the spiders in the solitary confinement whispered this to me."
Pavel was detained on December 22, 2021 in Berazino. The political prisoner was charged under Article 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting social hatred), Part 2 of Article 367 of the Criminal Code (slandering Lukashenka) and Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order, or actively participating in them) and sentenced to 5 years in a general security colony.
The pressure on politician Mikola Statkevich continues
Relatives of Mikola received confirmation that he is still in the Hlybokaje colony No. 13, where he is placed to PKT and solitary confinement in turns, writes Svaboda.
"He was deprived of the right to make calls, deprived of the only care package and meeting per year," the source said.
Release and reduce the term. The sentence of political prisoners changed as a result of an appeal
On November 22, the Supreme Court considered appeals against the decision of the Viciebsk Regional Court on spouses Tatsiana Pytsko and Viachaslau Lazarau, who were sentenced to 3 and 5.5 years in prison, respectively.
As a result, judge Yuryi Rutkouski decided to sentence Tatsiana to the same 3 years of imprisonment, but with a punishment delay for three years. As a result, Tatsiana was released from the Viciebsk pre-trial detention center, where she spent almost six months. Viachaslau's sentence was reduced by six months, reports Belarusian Association of Journalists.
A political prisoner who suffered a stroke and a heart attack in custody can be sent to a psychiatric hospital by force
As it became known to the human rights activists of Viasna, such a situation has happened with 48-year-old political prisoner and photographer Dzmitryi Sonchyk, who had a heart attack in November 2021 in Mahileŭ prison, and then a stroke. Dzmitryi was sentenced to 3 years in prison for comments. He has about four months left before his release.
Former prisoners of colony No. 2 said that Dzmitryi was held in a medical unit. The political prisoner allegedly has mental health problems, so doctors give him some medications under this pretext. The "treatment" began even before the political prisoner was placed in the medical unit. Employees of penal colony-2 want to transfer Dzmitryi for examination to the Homeĺ psychiatric hospital, but he refuses. The prisoners also said that he had problems with correspondence. Former prisoners who have contacted human rights activists are very concerned about Dzmitryi's condition after his "treatment" in the medical unit of the colony.
The verdict of political prisoner and IT specialist Dzmitryi Mastavoi has come into force
He was detained after the attack at the Mačuliščy airfield.
As Lusterka reported, the decision of the Brest Region Court was left unchanged.
Recall that Dzmitryi was sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code (treason to the state) and Part 1 of Article 361-4 (promotion of extremist activity).
A political prisoner who was detained on her return from Poland tried in Hrodna
The trial of 30-year-old political prisoner Aliaksandra Kasko began in the Hrodna Regional Court on November 27. She was detained on her return from Poland in early February of this year. Now she is charged under eight articles of the Criminal Code, for "participating in extremist formation" and "facilitating extremist activities" among other things. The political prisoner faces up to 12 years of imprisonment.
The case will be considered by judge Dzmitryi Bubenchyk.
Even before the trial, on September 12, 2023, the KGB added Aliaksandra to the "list of terrorists". She was also put on the "list of extremists".