On April 27, Intex-press journalist Yuryi Hantsarevich was arrested in an administrative case. On April 29, he was sentenced to 10 days of administrative imprisonment.
About a week after the journalist’s detention, pro-government Telegram channels published a video fragment of his interrogation, as well as the reason for his detention: he was allegedly taking pictures of Russian military equipment and sending them to media, recognized by the Belarusian authorities as extremist.
On May 6, Hantsarevich was charged under Part 1 of Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Promoting extremist activities), which provides for restriction of freedom for up to four years or imprisonment from two to six years.
After the charges were filed, Yury Hantsarevich was transferred from the temporary detention center to the pre-trial detention center No. 6 in Baranavičy.
We, the undersigned organizations, consider all these actions in relation to Yuryi Hantsarevich as a continuation of the targeted policy of the authorities to limit the dissemination of uncensored information in the country and a continuation of the attack on freedom of speech.
Given the circumstances, we believe that the criminal prosecution of Yuryi Hantsarevich is politically motivated and aimed at stopping or changing the nature of his legitimate public activities in the sphere of non-violent exercise of freedom of expression and dissemination of information.
Based on this and guided by para. 2.1 and 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners adopted at III Belarusian Human Rights Forum, we, human rights defenders, recognize Yuryi Hantsarevich political prisoner and call on the Belarusian authorities to:
- immediately release Yuryi Hantsarevich and drop criminal charges against him;
- refrain from using criminal prosecution as an instrument of pressure on freedom of expression, or other rights and freedoms;
- immediately release all political prisoners, as well as other individuals detained in connection with their exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly in the post-election period, and stop political repression in the country.
Belarusian Association of Journalists
Human Rights Center Viasna
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House