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What happened to political prisoners from December 13 to 21

2023 2023-12-22T14:09:42+0300 2023-12-22T14:09:42+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.

22 people were recognized as political prisoners over the past week. At the moment, there are 1,483 people on the list of political prisoners. In addition, human rights activists learned that nine political prisoners had served their sentences and were released: Viachaslau Smirnou, Yuliya Kastsiuchenka, Andrei Ivaniushyn, Ivan Zubko, Andrei Abraztsou, Viachaslau Syrayezhka, Uladzimir Turnou, Dzianis Shustau, Anton Lysau.

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

The defendant in the workers' movement case Uladzimir Zhurauka was transferred to a prison security level


Uladzimir is a former employee at Hrodna Azot.

He was detained on September 18, 2021. He was charged under Article 356 of the Criminal Code (treason to the state), Article 188 of the Criminal Code (slander) and Part 3 of Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist formation or participation in it). In February, he was sentenced to 15 years in a penal colony.

Zhurauka was sent to serve his term in the Babrujsk colony.

According to the MAYDAY TEAM, on November 16, a trial was held in Babrujsk in the case of replacing Uladzimir's security level. Judge Pavel Kartsinin decided to transfer the political prisoner to prison. Zhurauka will serve his sentence in Mahilioŭ prison No. 4.

The next trial of trial of senior citizen Vasil Dzemidovich will continue tomorrow in Staryja Darohi

Васіль Дземідовіч

He is accused under Artticle 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a representative of the authorities) and Article 368 of the Criminal Code (insulting Lukashenka). The case is being considered by judge Natalia Zyk. The case consideration began in October, but the court probably took a break. Therefore, the process will resume tomorrow.

This is the seventh trial of the senior citizen. In total, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison, while the result of the last two trials is still unknown. Dzemidovich has been behind bars for almost a year and four months.

Due to the fact that the political prisoner was included in the "list of terrorists", he cannot receive money transfers. It should be noted that over the past year, the pensioner has gone through dozens of prison transfers. The transfers of political prisoners happen in difficult conditions, so they affect Vasil's health badly.

Political prisoner Mikalai Kazlou was placed in a punishment cell (PKT) 

Мікалай Казлоў. Фота:

Mikalai is a Belarusian politician, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP). On August 6, 2021, he was sentenced to three months of arrest for disclosing the data of the investigation into the case of the Coordinating Council.

On July 27, 2022, he was detained again along with other members of the UCP. He was accused of participating in the March of the New Belarus in Minsk in 2020 (Article 342 of the Criminal Code). On November 3, Mikalai was sentenced to two and a half years in a penal colony. He delivered a powerful last speech at the trial.

According to Realnaya Belarus, the politician was placed in PKT for two months in November. Presumably, he will be transfered to a prison security level.

The verdict of political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk was left unchanged


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 (malicious disobedience to the colony administration), and later she was sentenced to another year in prison. 

On October 9, judge Stanislau Ivaniutsenka found the woman guilty under 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.  

According to the information of Brest Viasna, the Homeĺ Regional Court on December 15 upheld the verdict, and the complaint was dismissed. Soon, the woman will be transferred back to the colony.

Political prisoner Dzmitryi Sushchyk was transferred to a colony. He is currently being held in a solitary confinement cell (SHIZO)

Дзмітрый Сушчык

A new criminal case against Dzmitryi was considered in the Leninski District Court of Hrodna from August 10 to September 1. This time he was charged under Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the demands of the prison administration).

Judge Natallia Kozel found him guilty and sentenced him to one year and 15 days in addition to one and a half years in a penal colony.

At the same time, Dzmitryi was supposed to be released in August, having fully served his sentence, but was re-detained in a new case and placed in custody. 

It became known that the political prisoner is already in Orša colony No. 8. The administration of the colony placed Sushchyk in solitary confinement cell (SHIZO), but the time and reasons are unknown.

The Supreme Court considered an appeal of a citizen of Ukraine Katsiaryna Brukhanava 

Кацярына Бруханава. Фота з сацыяльных сетак.

According to the prosecutor's office, her verdict was left unchanged, and the appeal was not satisfied. In October, Katsiaryna was sentenced to two and a half years in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (assistance to extremist activities).

This summer, Brukhanava was detained while crossing the Belarusian border. She was asked to give her phone for a check, and she provided it to the staff along with passwords. The Belarusian security forces saw that on March 30, 2022, she sent two videos to the chatbot of the Zerkalo editorial team. They showed the movement of Russian military equipment near Minsk.

International legal team for Ales Bialiatski filed petition with UN working group on arbitrary detention

Алесь Бяляцкі выступае ў Сенаце Польшчы ў 2014 годзе. Фота: Michał Józefaciuk, CC BY

The international legal team for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, political prisoner, and Viasna human rights activist Ales Bialiatski has filed a petition with the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention.

The Working Group adjudicates cases of arbitrary detention and issues legal judgments assessing the compatibility of a state’s detention of an individual and whether it is or is not compliant with its obligations of international law. If a person’s detention is determined to be illegal, the Working Group calls for their immediate and unconditional release

Jared Genser, Bialiatski’s lead pro bono counsel, is author of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Commentary and Guide to Practice. He has taken 50 cases to the Working Group over his career. He has never lost.

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