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The pressure continues: what happened to political prisoners between May 23 and June 14

2024 2024-06-17T15:58:12+0300 2024-06-17T15:58:12+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

For over three years and a half, 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 reports the latest news about political prisoners.

48 people were recognized as political prisoners over the past weeks. At the moment, there are 1,407 people on the list of political prisoners. In addition, human rights activists learned that 34 political prisoners had served their sentences and were released, including Yauhen Merunko, Aliaksandr Ivanou, Illia Bokhan, Yury Tomashau, Halina Kavaliova, Ihar Vinakurau, Volha Barushka, Dzianis Dzeikun.

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

Political prisoner Aliaksandr Frantskevich will be tried for "malicious disobedience to the administration of the colony" 

Аляксандр Францкевіч. Радыё Свабода

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 first sent to Ivatsevičy colony No. 5 to serve his term, but later transferred to Vaŭkavysk penal colony-11. According to human rights activists, since September 2023, Aliaksandr has been placed in a punishment cell (PKT) for six months, and has also been repeatedly placed in a solitary confinement cell (SHIZO).

A criminal case has been initiated against Aliaksandr under Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the request of the colony administration). The political prisoner is currently in PKT.

Political prisoner Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada was placed in PKT for four months

Акіхіра Гаеўскі-Ханада на вынясенні прысуду 6 верасня 2022 года

Recall that the activist of the anarchist movement has been held behind bars for almost four years. On September 6, 2022, the Minsk City Court sentenced him to 16 years in a penal colony.

On February 28, 2023, the Supreme Court held a closed hearing of appeals. The judicial board chaired by judge Aliaksei Rybakou reduced the term of the political prisoner by three months. Thus, the final term of Akihiro's imprisonment is 15 years and 9 months in a medium security penal colony.

Activist Yauhen Afnahel was transferred to the Navapolack colony. There has been no news about him for a month now

Яўген Афнагель

A political prisoner and activist of the European Belarus, sentenced to seven years in a penal colony, has been held behind bars for almost four years. He served time in Navapolack colony No. 1, and then his security level was raised and he was transferred to Mahilioŭ prison No. 4.

Now it has become known that Yauhen was transferred back to Navapolack. There he was assigned to work cleaning cables. It is known that he was immediately deprived of a care package and a meeting. Besides, there have been no letters or calls from him for a month now. The relatives of the political prisoner believe that he was placed in a SHIZO.

Recall that during his time of imprisonment, Yauhen's eyesight deteriorated, so now he has to wear glasses. He reads and draws a lot behind bars. It is known that Yauhen is under pressure from the administration of correctional institutions.

Political prisoner Siarhei Dziatsuk was detained upon release from the colony in a new criminal case

39-year-old Siarhei was detained in March 2021. The security forces came to detain his mother, and they wanted to take away her phone. Her son Siarhei came to the defense of his mother. As a result, he was accused of "violence or threat of violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies" (Article 364 of the Criminal Code). The man was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The political prisoner served his term in Barysaŭ colony No. 14. 

According to the information of Homieĺ Viasna, Siarhei was supposed to be released after the end of his term in March 2024. But immediately after the release, he was detained as part of a new criminal case under Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the requirements of the colony administration).

On June 20, Siarhei's trial will begin in Barysaŭ District Court. The case will be handled by judge Liudmila Zinkevich.

Dzianis Dzikum received two additional years of imprisonment in a new criminal case. He filed an appeal

Дзяніс Дзікун

On March 25, political prisoner Dzianis Dzikun was sentenced in Horki District Court. He was charged under Part 2 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code (malicious disobedience to the requirements of the colony administration). Judge Natallia Famichova sentenced him to two more years of imprisonment in addition to 23 years. The political prisoner appealed the court's decision.

Dzianis's appeal was heard in the Mahilioŭ Regional Court on June 18. The decision was made by a judicial panel chaired by judge Siarhei Karaliou.

Political prisoner Yury Kastsiuk is going to be transferred to the prison security level

Юрый Касцюк

Yury, who was secretly taken from Russia to Belarus in the autumn of 2022, was sentenced to 4 years in a general security penal colony. He was held in a Russian pre-trial detention center for five months, and for another three months, in a Belarusian one.

Kastsiuk was charged under Part 1 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (promotion of extremist activity). According to the prosecution, Yury helped other political prisoners: he asked friends to open a Polish bank card, where he received money from BYSOL and By_help, which he subsequently sent to relatives of political prisoners. He received money for assistance from "organizations that identified themselves as human rights organizations." Yury himself did not admit guilt at the trial and refused to testify.

On May 27, a trial was held in Orša to replace the political prisoner's detention security level with a prison one. The decision was made by judge Ina Kokhava, but the result is unknown.

The punishment for political prisoner Aliaksandr Hashnikau might be increased

Аляксандр Гашнікаў, Сяргей Дзюба

Aliaksandr is an employee of the Belarusian Metallurgical Plant in Žlobin. 

He was detained on September 18, 2021 in the case of the Workers' Movement. This initiative was recognized as extremist on September 21, 2021, and at the same time, workers were detained throughout the country.

On February 17, 2023, in Homieĺ Regional Court, judge Aliaksandr Piskunou found Aliaksandr guilty under Part 1 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code (treason to the state), Part 3 of Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist formation and participation in it), and sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment. The political prisoner is serving his term in Navapolack colony No. 1. 

On May 28, Navapolack Court heard the case for increasing the detention security level for the political prisoner. By the decision of the judge Vital Lapko, Aliaksandr can be transferred to the prison security level. The result of the trial is still unknown.

Ihar Alinevich was recently placed in a solitary confinement cell (SHIZO), and Siarhei Ramanau for six months was a punishment cell (PKT)

Дзмітрый Дубоўскі, Ігар Аліневіч, Дзмітрый Рэзановіч і Сяргей Раманаў у судзе. Фота Ганны Няфёдавай

In early May, Siarhei Ramanau left PKT, where he spent six months. The administration of the Horki colony blocks correspondence, so letters and drawings do not reach the political prisoner. It is also known that in early May, Alinevich was once again placed in a solitary confinement cell.

It is reported that there is almost no information about Dzmitry Dubouski.

Recall that on December 22, 2021, the Minsk Regional Court sentenced Alinevich and Ramanau to 20 years in a colony; Rezanovich to 19 years in a colony; Dubouski to 18 years in a colony. The trial was held behind closed doors from the first session.

Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk was charged for the third time with "disobeying the administration of the colony"

The political prisoner was supposed to be released on May 21, but two days before that she was transferred to a pre-trial detention center. Andrei Sharenda told Svaboda that his wife is accused under Article 411 of the Criminal Code:

"Now I know for sure that back on May 19, before taking her out of the colony, a lawyer on duty was called there and a new charge was read out in his presence. And she has been in the Homieĺ pre-trial detention center for a week now.

I can only add that Palina will now have another investigator."

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