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The statement on the recognition of 7 people as political prisoners

2024 2024-02-16T12:39:44+0300 2024-02-16T12:39:44+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Statement by the human rights community of Belarus

February 15, 2024

We, the representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, once again emphasize that detention and further deprivation of liberty for various protest activities are used by authorities to suppress social and political activity, dissent, and anti-war demonstrations.

In 2021, criminal legislation was significantly tightened and supplemented with new types of crimes used by authorities exclusively for political repression.

Out-of-court, the Interior Ministry and the KGB arbitrarily recognize as extremist citizens' groups brought together by public or political interests that criticize the actions of the authorities and demand reforms in the state and its policies. Several media resources were recognized as extremist formations as well. This in turn paves the way for the arbitrary prosecution and imprisonment of their members and respondents as a disproportionate measure restricting the right to association and freedom of expression.

Thus, Iryna Takarchuk, Yauhen Hlushkou, Tatsiana Stsepa were taken into custody under Articles 361-2, 361-4 of the Criminal Code on charges of financing or facilitating extremist activities;

Natallia Ladutska was taken into custody after a crackdown on January 23-24, 2024 by security forces on relatives and other people who help political prisoners;

Dziyana Stulba was sentenced to imprisonment in a penal colony under Part 2 of Article 361-2 of the Criminal Code for donations to protest initiatives declared by the authorities to be extremist formations;

Aliaksei Shviatsou was sentenced under Article 361-3 of the Criminal Code to five years of imprisonment in a penal colony on charges of financing the recruitment, training, other preparation or use of citizens of the Republic of Belarus to participate in an armed formation of one of the warring parties on the territory of a foreign state, in armed conflicts, military operations – for donations to Belarusian military formations fighting on the side of Ukraine against Russian aggression;

Aliaksandr Varonin was sentenced under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code to imprisonment in a penal colony on charges of facilitating extremist activities.

We recognize the named individuals as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of “Political Prisoner”, and demand that the Belarusian authorities:

  • immediately release political prisoners Dziyana Stulba, Aliaksandr Varonin, Iryna Takarchuk, Natallia Ladutska, Yauhen Hlushkou, Tatsiana Stsepa, Aliaksei Shviatsou;

  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center Viasna;

PEN Belarus;

Belarusian Association of Journalists;

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House;

Legal initiative;


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