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The statement on the recognition of 6 people as political prisoners

2024 2024-05-27T12:05:07+0300 2024-05-27T16:31:40+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

May 24, 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, solidarity, 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.

We are aware of the convictions of:

Anastasiya Matsiash under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code on charges of joining an extremist formation for working in the interests of the Belsat TV company; she was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal colony;

Aliaksandr Maksimovich under Articles 290-1, 361-2 of the Criminal Code on charges of financing extremist terrorist activities for donations to Belarusian protest initiatives;

Siarhei Vysotski under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code on charges of joining an extremist formation;

It is also known about the detention of:

Maksim Khvashchynski under Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code on charges of organizing or joining an extremist formation;

Pavel Lukashevich under Articles 369, 391, 361-1 of the Criminal Code on charges of insulting a representative of the government and a judge, organizing or being part of an extremist formation; he was detained for statements on the Internet and registration in the Victory Plan;

Vadzim Rushkevich under Article 342, Part 3 of Article 361 of the Criminal Code on charges of organizing and preparing actions grossly violating public order, or actively participating in them, as well as calling for restrictive measures against the Republic of Belarus;

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 Anastasiya Matsiash, Aliaksandr Maksimovich, Siarhei Vysotski, Maksim Khvashchynski, Pavel Lukashevich, Vadzim Rushkevich;

  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center Viasna;

Legal Initiative;

Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;


Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House.

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