Tacciana Pyćko, a mother of three minor children and former Russian language and literature teacher, was detained in a criminal case in Viciebsk.
In Lida, Hrodna region, a poet, author of the Kto-to ochen collection of poems, and participant in contemporary art festivals, Dzmitry Sarokin, died in a police station under unknown circumstances.
Cultural manager Paval Bielavus was transferred to colony No 17 in Škloū.
The Minsk City Court begins hearing the criminal case of Ihar Ciapciejeū, Jury Niesciarenka, Viktar Hryńko, Uladzimir Savieljeū, Ihar Cikač on trial for hoisting large national Belarusian flags and the flags of Ukraine.
Volha Miciankova, the music director of the Belarusian State University’s choir, was detained for refusing to perform in Donbas.
On 10 June, Larysa Byćko, the owner of the Stuly manor house agricultural centre in Pružany district, Brest region, known as a populariser of Belarusian culture, was detained along with six more people during a traditional puppet theatre performance.
Uladzimir Tyčynski, an entrepreneur from Mahilioū, was detained over a Ukrainian flag inside his car.
Historians Viktar Čaraūko, Siarhiej Hlazyryn, Jury Kieža were fired from Polack State University.
The linguist, former chairwoman of the Belarusian Language Society and former MP Alena Anisim was fired from the National Academy of Sciences after having served 12 days of administrative arrest.
Libraries removed the books of Nobel Prize laureate Sviatlana Alieksijevič (Svetlana Alexeevich) from free circulation.
I. Politically motivated criminal cases against cultural workers, authors and performers
- On 6 June in Viciebsk, former Russian language and literature teacher Tacciana Pyćko, the wife of video cameraman Viačaslaū Lazaraū, was detained in a criminal case. Tacciana was accused of creating or participating in an extremist formation (Article 361-1 of the Criminal Code). Tacciana Pyćko is the mother of three minor children, the youngest daughter, Eva, is one year old. After the arrest of Tacciana Pyćko, Eva was transferred to a children’s hospital under state guardianship until the relatives arranged for private custody. Tacciana Pyćko’s husband, Viačaslaū Lazaraū, has remained in the pre-trial detention centre No 2 since February 2023. He is charged under Article 361-4 of the Criminal Code (facilitating extremist activity) for links with a non-state media outlet designated as an extremist formation in Belarus.
- On 7 June, local history expert Uladzimir Hundar was transferred to a penal colony in Babrujsk.
- On 13 June, it became known that the founder of the Symbal.by store, cultural manager Paval Bielavus, was moved to colony No. 17 in Škloū. On 11 May, Minsk City Court sentenced Paval Bielavus to 13 years in a medium-security penal colony. He was found guilty of violating four articles in the Criminal Code: 342 (organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order or active participation in them); 356 (state treason); 361 (calls for actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus), 361.1 (creating an extremist formation or participating in it). Paval Bielavus carried out projects promoting Belarusian culture and national identity for over ten years.
- On 15 June, philanthropist and presidential contender Viktar Babaryka was not present at the court hearing of the criminal case against his son, cultural manager Eduard Babaryka. Before the hearing, the government-owned newspaper Minskaja Praūda reported that the state prosecutor included Viktar Babaryka in the list of witnesses to testify during Eduard Babaryka’s trial. “We still do not have accurate information about the whereabouts of Viktar Babaryka and his state of health,” the Telegram channel “Viktar Babaryka” reports. The Minsk Regional Court continues the trial of cultural manager, head of the Ulej and MolaMola crowdfunding platforms, Eduard Babaryka, charged under Article 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord), Article 235 (2) of the Criminal Code (legalisation of proceeds from crime), Article 243 of the Criminal Code (tax evasion), Article 293 (1) of the Criminal Code (organisation of riots). Eduard Babaryka was arrested on 18 June 2020, together with his father, when he went to the Central Election Commission to file the signatures collected for the nomination of Viktar Babaryka as a presidential candidate.
II. Politically motivated administrative detentions and arrests of cultural workers, authors and performers
- On 6 June, it became known that Volha Miciankova, the head of the People’s Student Choir of the Belarusian State University, was detained for refusing to perform in the Donbas. Pro-government channels published a video showing Volha saying she refused to make a concert in the Donbas, telling those who invited her “to follow the Russian ship.”
- On 6 June, on the eve of the indie pop festival in Navapolack, the police detained local musicians – Detroit Hills vocalist Aliaksiej Zapasnik and BTTF bass guitarist Arciom Novikaū.
- On 10 June, Larysa Byćko, the owner of the Stuly manor house agricultural centre in Pružany district, Brest region, populariser of Belarusian culture, was detained along with six more people during a traditional puppet theatre performance “Batlejka”. The detainees were placed in detention centres in Kobryn and Pružany.
- On 13 June, the people detained in the Stuly manor house agricultural centre stood trial under Article 19.11 in the Code of Administrative Offences (dissemination of extremist materials). Two people were sentenced to seven days of arrest, and two walked out free 72 hours later, their phones taken for examination. On 13 June, Pružany District Court heard the case of the sound director of the puppet theatre play, Ihar Paliašenka, and the owner of the Stuly manor house, Larysa Byćko. The verdict in the case of Ihar Paliašenka remains unknown. Larysa Byćko received 15 days of administrative arrest.
III. Trials and arrests for using Belarusian and Ukrainian national symbols
- On 2 June, it became known that the businessman from Mahilioū, Uladzimir Tyčinsky, was detained for holding a Ukrainian flag inside his car. A TV broadcast on the state-run channel Belarus 4 described the official flag of Ukraine as “a Ukrainian nationalist symbol”.
- On 6 June, Minsk City Court opened the trial of Ihar Ciapciejeū, Jury Niesciarenka, Viktar Hryńko, Uladzimir Savieljieū, Ihar Cikač, who hoisted large national Belarusian and Ukrainian flags on power lines in October 2022. Charges were filed under the following articles of the Criminal Code: 339 (2) (malicious hooliganism); 361-2 (financing activities of extremist formations); 368 (1) (insulting the president); 361-4 (4) “facilitating extremist activities”.
- On 7 June, a resident of Minsk was detained for “keeping protest symbols”, including Ukraine’s official coat of arms. In the “repentance video” with the detainee, the police officers used the soundtrack of a song about the Russian private military company “Wagner”.
- On 8 June, it became known that Viačaslaū Adamovič, a Catholic priest from the village of Idolta, Mijory district, was arrested for seven days. According to the court ruling, the priest was charged under two articles in the Code of Administrative Offences: 19.11(2) (dissemination of extremist materials) and 24.23 (1) (participation in mass events). Police found in one of the priest’s social media accounts that he was a subscriber to the community and website on the list of so-called extremist materials. In another social media profile feed, they found an image of a white-red-white flag with the Pahonia (Pursuit) coat of arms.
- On 11 June, it became known that at the end of May that Natallia Mićko, an employee of the district hospital in Hlybokaje, was arrested for 12 days for keeping an image of the Pahonia (Pursuit) coat of arms in her phone. The image was from the Charter97 website “… a rider on a horse with a shield and a sword (Pursuit) on a white-red-white background.” The court described the presence of the image of the historical coat of arms “as storage for the purpose of distribution of information products included in the national list of extremist materials” under Article 19.11 (2) in the Code of Administrative Offences and “as a violation of the established order of picketing, committed by a participant of such an event,” under Article 24.23 (1) in the Code of Administrative Offences.
III. Conditions in places of detention
- On 1 June, 37-year-old poet Dzmitry Sarokin, the author of the book of poems “Kto-to ochen,” a participant in contemporary art festivals, died at the Lida police station. The details of the death and the reasons for his stay at the police station are unknown.
- On 5 June, Aliaksandr Franckievič, a prison literature author and activist of the anarchist movement, was placed in solitary confinement until 15 June in the maximum-security penal colony in Ivacevičy.
- On 9 June, it became known that the public figure and writer Paval Sieviaryniec was placed in a cell-type facility in penal colony No. 17 in Škloū for three months.
- Historian Janina Puškina, the wife of the imprisoned artist Alieś Puškin, reported that she had not received letters from her husband for a month and a half.
IV. Repressions in the book and publishing sector
Libraries removed the in-demand books of Nobel Prize laureate Sviatlana Alieksijevič (Svetlana Alexeevich) from free circulation.
V. Politically motivated dismissals
- Linguist, former head of the Belarusian Language Society and ex-MP Alena Anisim was dismissed from the National Academy of Sciences while serving her administrative arrest term. Alena Anisim was detained on 17 May in her office at the Academy of Sciences. She spent 12 days behind bars.
- On 13 June, assistant professors of Polack State University, Viktar Čaraūko (archaeologist, historian, associate professor of the Department of History and Tourism) and Siarhiej Hlazyryn (historian, researcher of the history of the 1863 Uprising in Belarus, associate professor of the Department of Constitutional Law and Public Administration) were detained on 23 May and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest and dismissed from the university “by mutual consent”. Jury Kieža, associate professor of the Department of History and Tourism, was dismissed from the university, too.