On October 7, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ales Bialiatski, an imprisoned human rights activist and writer (as well as to the Russian “Memorial” and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties). Nobel laureate Ales Bialiatski is held in a pre-trial detention center # 1 on Valadarski Street in Minsk. Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Anatol Hlaz commented on the Nobel Prize for Belarus as follows: “The Nobel Committee is so politicized that, sorry, Alfred Nobel is tired of turning over in the coffin”.
Poet and journalist Andrei Aliaksandrau was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Rock musician Siarhei Dalivel – up to two years in prison. A criminal case has been launched against translator Natallia Dulina.
Police detained musicians, members of music band Litesound, brothers Dzmitry and Uladzimir Karakins, who represented Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012.
Police continued to detain people for using the coat of arms “The Chase” / “Pahonia” (the coat of arms is a historical and cultural value and is included in the State List of Historical and Cultural Values of Belarus).
I. Criminal politically motivated cases against cultural figures, authors and performers
- On October 3, 2022, in Minsk police detained Natallia Dulina, a linguist, translator from Italian, former lecturer at the University of Linguistics, and associate professor. A criminal case has been initiated against her with charges brought under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order or active participation in them). During the year, Natallia Dulina was detained four times and tried on politically motivated administrative charges. On September 9, 2020, together with other teachers, she spoke in a video message in which she supported the students, condemned the actions of police officers and the position of the university administration, and on October 29, she was dismissed from the university. Natallia Dulina is placed in the Detention Center of the State Department of the Minsk City Executive Committee.
- On October 6, the Minsk Regional Court handed down a verdict in the criminal case of Andrei Aliaksandrau, a poet, songwriter, editor, journalist, media manager – 14 years of prison under the general regime and a fine of 1,000 base units (32,000 rubles). Andrei Aliaksandrau was charged with a number of articles of the Criminal Code: Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order or active participation in them); Art. 243 of the Criminal Code (evasion of payment of taxes, fees); Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist formation or participation in it); Art. 356 of the Criminal Code (treason). Andrei Aliaksandrau was detained on January 12, 2021. The reason for the accusation was that, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Andrei Aliaksandrau had paid 250 fines to participants of peaceful protests from August 22 to November 9, 2020. On June 30, 2021, Andrei Aliaksandrau was charged with a new charge according to Part 1 of Art. 356 (treason). The trial on the “BelaPAN case” began on June 6, 2022 and lasted four months. Andrei Aliaksandrau is a poet, songwriter, editor, journalist, and media manager. Behind bars, Andrei Aliaksandrau continues to write poems, which he sends in letters to friends and colleagues.
- The Minsk City Court continues to consider the criminal case of Siarhei Satsuka, a journalist, editor of “Yezhednevnik”and writer. On September 23, the Minsk City Court started a trial over a criminal case against him. Siarhei Satsuk is accused according to three articles of the Criminal Code: Part 2 of Art. 430 (receiving a bribe), Part 2 of Art. 130 (incitement of social enmity), Part 2, Art. 426 (exceeding power or official powers). Siarhei Satsuk is a fiction writer, investigative journalist, editor-in-chief of the “Yezhenedelnik” electronic newspaper. He worked as an editor of the journalistic investigative department of “Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” and the editor-in-chief of the “Ezhednevnik” portal. In 1998–1999, he published Russian-language fiction novels “Peacemakers of the Cone” and “Special Squad of Purge” under the pseudonym Sergei Barnatin. On September 23, the court examined the materials of the investigation and listened to witnesses. Preliminary court hearings were scheduled for October 13, and the next stages will be the arguments of the parties, the last word of Siarhei Satsuk and the announcement of the verdict.
- On October 7, the Vitsiebsk Regional Court convicted Siarhei Dalivel, a rock-musician and political prisoner, up to two years in a prison under general regime for comments on the “Zeltser case” on social networks. He was tried under Part 1 of Art. 130 (incitement of social enmity). Siarhei Dalivel is the leader of a Minsk rock-band “Banderol”, author of lyrics and music, and solo artist. He was detained in 2021 in connection with the criminal case initiated after a KGB officer Dzmitry Fiedasiuk and an IT specialist Andrei Zeltser were killed in Minsk.
II. Politically motivated administrative detentions and arrests of cultural figures, authors and performers
- On October 13, it became known about the arrest of musicians, members of the Litesound band – brothers Dzmitry and Uladzimir Karakins. They are accused of “participating in illegal marches with blocking roads, calling to action and agitating on social networks, cooperating with extremist organizations.” In 2012, the Litesound band represented Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest.
III. Trials and arrests for Belarusian and Ukrainian national symbols
- On October 11, a third trial was held in Navapolatsk over Hanna Tukava under Art. 24.23 of Administrative Code (“picketing”). On September 1, there was a performance by people in military uniform during the opening of the school year ceremony at the Navapolatsk gymnasium. Hanna Tukava, in the middle of the performance, came out in front of them and showed the sign of victory. She was immediately arrested and then kept behind bars for a week, despite the fact that she has a 12-year-old daughter. It is known that earlier she was fined twice: 30 and 100 base units. Hanna Tukava was accused of “picketing” on Instagram with images of the Ukrainian flag.
- On October 11, in Mahiliou, in a hairdressing salon, police knocked Arkadz Humiennikau down from a chair to the floor and detained him for “spreading photos of the white-red-white flag on social networks”.
- On October 13, police officers detained a taxi driver Dzianis Kleshchanka in Mahiliou and recorded a so-called “penitence video” in which he stands on a white-red-white flag, is forced to sing a song “Opera” by a Russian band “Liube” and to stamp on his cap with “The Chase”/”Pahonia”.
- On October 13, a pro-government Telegram channel showed a so-called “penitence video ” with Aliaksandar Kazakou, the director of an accounting company “Your Balance”, detained for keeping white-red-white symbols in the office. The reason for the raid on the company “Your Balance” was a complaint of “vigilant citizens” who were “very indignant” over the national symbols in the head’s office. The national symbols in question are white-red-white flags and dairies with “The Chase” / “Pahonia” (the coat of arms “Pahonia” is a historical and cultural value and is included in the State List of Historical and Cultural Values of Belarus).
- On October 13 Dzmitry Kavalenka, who was sentenced to 15 days for “The Chase” on the plate number of the car, was released. He was found guilty of “picketing with a frame with an ornament on his car plate” (Art. 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). Police officers saw a small coat of arms “The Chase” on the plate number.
IV. Conditions in places of imprisonment
- Ihar Alinevich announced a hunger strike in Zhodzina in prison #8. The family and the lawyer cannot find out what has happened to him. Ihar Alinevich is the author of a book “I’m Going to Magadan”, publicist, activist of the anarchist movement. In 2013, Ihar Alinevich received the main award for the best work written in prison, and became the first laureate of the Frantsishak Aliakhnovich Award, founded by the Radio Liberty and the Belarusian PEN-Center. On December 22, 2021, Ihar Alinevich was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
- On October 5, it became known that Zmitser Dashkevich was put in a penal cell immediately after being transferred to a colony, in correctional facility 14, Navasady. Zmitser Dashkevich is a publicist, author of a book of prison literature “The Worm” (2014), for which in 2014 he received Frantsishak Aliakhnovich award, founded by the Belarusian PEN-Center jointly with the Radio Liberty and given for the best work written in prison. On March 24, 2022, Zmitser Dashkevich was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest, placed in the pre-trial detention center on Akrestsina Street in Minsk. After 15 days of arrest, he was not released, he was accused according to Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them). On July 14, the Maskowski District Court of Minsk sentenced Zmitser to 1 year and 6 months in prison.
- On October 7, it became known that until mid-January artist Ales Pushkin will be kept in cell-type premises. The wife of Ales Pushkin, historian Yanina Pushkina, has not received letters from her husband from the colony for two months; the meeting was forbidden. In August 2022, for some violations of the regime, the administration of the colony placed Ales Pushkin in cell-type premises for five months, where Ales Pushkin is completely isolated. On March 30, 2022, the Minsk City Court handed down a sentence in the criminal case of Ales Pushkin – imprisonment for 5 years in a high-security prison by partial addition of sentence: 4.5 years in prison according to Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (rehabilitation of Nazism) and a year of “chemistry” according to Art. 370 of the Criminal Code (insult of state symbols). Ales Pushkin was detained on March 30, 2021, for placing a portrait of anti-Soviet saboteur Yauhen Zhykhar at an exhibition in Hrodna on March 19, at the Center for Urban Life. In 2019, for his book “Prison Album”, Ales Pushkin became the laureate of the Frantsishak Aliakhnovich award, founded by the Belarusian PEN-Center together with the Radio Liberty – for the best work written in prison.
V. Repression in the book sphere
“Belkniha”, a chain of state-owned bookstores throughout Belarus, is terminating contracts with independent publishing houses “Yanushkevich”, “Knihazbor”, “Halijafy”. “Many of our books, which we have not delivered anywhere for a long time, can still be found in “Belkniha” bookstores, especially in the regions, – reports “Yanushkevich” publishing house on its Facebook page.