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What happened to political prisoners between January 1 and January 15

2024 2024-01-15T17:14:30+0300 2024-01-15T18:04:58+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

For more than three years, security forces have been continuously carrying out mass repressions in Belarus. 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 1,412 people on the list of political prisoners. Over the past weeks, it has become known that at least 20 political prisoners have served their sentences and been released: Andrei Bialiauski, Aliaksandr Babich, Mikhail Kukharchuk, Viachaslau Biahanski, Mikalai Berdnikau, Valeryi Yeliseyeu, Artsiom Milashevich, Alena Yahorychava, Artsiom Zadrutski, Artur Charniauski, Viktar Nestserau, Daniil Ramanau, Kiryl Malyshenka, Artsiom Takarchuk, Illia Kadzetau, Anton Kastsiuchenka, Aliaksandr Zhykharevich, Dzmitryi Tsyb, Vital Markusheuski, Tatsiana Kupchyna.

A political prisoner convicted for donations died of pneumonia in the colony

Храсько Вадзім

Vadzim Khrasko, a 50-year-old political prisoner, died in Viciebsk colony No. 3. In August 2023, judge Siarhei Khrypach sentenced him to three years in prison for several donations, despite the fact that the man had a serious illness.

Consideration of Vadzim's appeal in the Supreme Court was scheduled for October 13, 2023. The judicial board, chaired by Aliaksei Tetsiukhin, upheld the verdict.

The political prisoner died on the night of January 8–9 from pneumonia. The man was taken to the hospital when he could no longer be saved. The officials do not comment on the incident in the Viciebsk colony in any way. On January 12, Vadzim was buried in Minsk.

Political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich was not given a single parcel over the past year

Мікалай Аўтуховіч на судзе 18 траўня

A relative of the political prisoner told Svaboda about this:

"We sent him a parcel with congratulations and sweets in advance. It turned out that this parcel was not even taken from the post office. The relatives found out the reason through the Internet. They read on the postal service website that he allegedly refused to receive it. But that's not true."

According to a relative, on December 30, Mikalai had brief calls with several relatives:

"He wished everyone a Happy New Year. His voice was cheerful. He said that his health was mostly okay. He said that he was allowed one parcel per year, but still had not received anything: "And I never refuse a parcel."

A senior citizen with cancer, Alla Zuyeva, was transferred to a colony

Зуева Ала

62-year-old Alla was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in October. Six years ago, she was diagnosed with leukemia. The woman started writing a fantasy book. The daughter of the political prisoner told Svaboda that the woman needs to be constantly monitored by doctors, undergo tests so that the disease does not progress, and take the necessary medications.

Symptoms appear periodically. Sometimes she feels quite well, and there are days when she has no energy, gets tired quickly, feels weak, and cannot get up. The woman has a severe back pain. She has panic attacks that started happening before prison. She has not had chemotherapy, but it might be needed if Alla's health deteriorates. She receives letters only from her daughter, but not from other relatives and friends.

It became known that Alla has already begun serving time in Homieĺ women's colony No. 4.

Political prisoner Ryhor Kastusiou is going to be transferred to a prison security level

Рыгор Кастусёў

According to human rights activists, on January 15, a trial was held in the Ivacevičy District Court to replace the security level for the political prisoner. By the decision of judge Siarhei Kukhatskavalets, the chairman of the BPF Party may be transferred to a prison security level.

Recall that Ryhor was detained on April 12, 2021 in Škloŭ in the case under Article 357 of the Criminal Code "conspiracy or other actions committed with the aim of seizing state power." He was later sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony. In November, it became known that the political prisoner was placed in a punishment cell (PKT) for 6 months.

There, Ryhor's health problems worsened: he was diagnosed with cancer.

The verdict of political prisoner and software engineer Leanid Raichonak was left unchanged 

On January 4, the Supreme Court considered an appeal of a political prisoner and IT specialist from Brest.

His verdict was left unchanged, and the appeal was not satisfied.

Recall that in October Leanid was sentenced to 6 years in a medium security penal colony under Part 2 of Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code for donating to Belarusian volunteers in Ukraine.

Political prisoner Barys Vitko is being tried again in Brest

Барыс Вітко. Фота з сацыяльных сетак.

After a break, the Brest Regional Court continues to consider the criminal case of a 68-year-old resident of Liakhavičy, who was previously convicted of insulting a judge under Article 391 of the Criminal Code. On January 20, 2023, the Liakhavičy District Ccourt found him guilty and sentenced him to two years of restriction of freedom without referral to an open-type institution (home confinement).

This time, the political prisoner was charged with more serious charges under several articles of the Criminal Code.

Judge Vera Filonik began considering the new case on January 4.

At the first trial, Barys was accused of writing an offensive comment about judge Mikalai Kmita on the Liakhavičy 97 Telegram channel.

More than 11 months ago, the contact with political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich was lost 

Мікалай Статкевіч. Фота: Уладзь Грыдзін

"I hope Mikalai doesn't feel lonely now, no matter how hard those people try," his wife Maryna Adamovich wrote on Facebook.

Relatives of Mikalai received confirmation that he is still in the Hlybokaje colony No. 13, where he is placed to PKT and solitary confinement in turns. He was deprived of the right to make calls and get the only one care package and one meeting per year.

Statkevich has been behind bars for more than 3 years and 7 months. He was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment in a special security penal colony.

Human rights activists of Article 19 demanded the release of political prisoners Andrei Aliaksandrau and Iryna Zlobina 


Joanna Szymanska, an employee of the organization, notes that "Andrei is a staunch supporter of the freedom of press, who previously worked with organizations dealing with freedom of expression, as well as in journalism in Article 19 among other organizations," writes Pozirk.

The human rights activist notes that they "tried to send letters to Aliaksandrau, but the last response from Andrei is dated 2021." Despite this, Szymanska notes: "Our thoughts are always with Andrei and Iryna, and we will continue our work to free them."

Recall that Andrei and Iryna, along with other political prisoners, were convicted in the high-profile BelaPAN case in 2021: Andrei Aliaksandrau was sentenced to 14 years in a penal colony, Iryna Zlobina — 9 years in a penal colony, Iryna Leushyna — 4 years in a penal colony, Dzmitryi Navazhylau — 6 years in a penal colony.

On September 1, 2022, Iryna and Andrei Aliaksandrau got married in pre-trial detention center-1.

If you have information about political prisoners, or your relatives have faced inhuman and cruel treatment in places of detention, violation of human rights, please write to: Telegram: @ Viasnainfo.

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