Political prisoners

At the start of April 2014, FIDH identified nine individuals as political prisoners in Belarus. In Belarusian prisons and penal colonies, these political prisoners suffer regular punishments that sharply exacerbate the already difficult conditions of their detention. International organisations, such as the European Union, have called upon Belarus to release all political prisoners and raised concerns about the violation of their rights. The freedom of 32 former political prisoners who were recently released, is also seriously restricted.

Please see the articles below on the situation of political prisoners in Belarus:

Minsk City Court confirms one-year verdict for Vasil Parfiankou

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The Minsk City Court heard today an appeal filed in the case of political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou. As a result, the verdict of Pershamaiski District Court was upheld and the appeal was dismissed.

On May 29, 2012 the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk sentenced Vasil Parfiankou to six months of arrest under Art. 421 of the Criminal Code (breaching preventive police supervision set by the court).

On December 5, 2013 the same court repeatedly convicted Vasil Parfiankou on the same charges and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment to be served in a maximum security penal colony.

Now Vasil Parfiankou is in Zhodzina jail, where, according to preliminary data, he is awaiting transfer to a colony in Horki, Mahiliou region.

The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the Belarusian Helsinki Commit...

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Political prisoner Yauhen Vaskovich spent 247 days in sum in a penal cell

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The 22-year old political prisoner, journalist of Bobrujskij Courier Yauhen Vaskovich is sent to the solitary cell, a fine for bad behavior in prison, almost every month. By now, he has spent 247 days in solitary confinement, report human rights defenders, which means nearly ten months out of less than three years of imprisonment.

Last time Yauhen was placed in the isolator before the New Year, on December 27, for ten days.

Such regime of serving the sentence (he is allowed only one food parcel up to two kilos a year) made impact on the physical state: being 186 cm tall, he weighs only 65 kilos.

His mother says he does not complain in letters; she supposes it is not allowed to write things like that. The lawyer meets him regularly...

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Mikalai Autukhovich turns 51: “You cannot fully understand freedom if you have never been in captivity”

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On 7 January political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich turned 51. He has celebrated two previous birthdays in a cell on the ground floor of Hrodna prison.

Mr. Autukhovich was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for “illegal possession and transportation of five cartridges and shotgun”. In January 2012 he was transferred from maximum security penal colony No. 5 in Ivatsevichy to Hrodna prison as a persistent violator of the colony regulations. Despite the fact that during the prolonged detention in prison a former successful businessman and veteran of the war in Afghanistan has acquired many serious chronic diseases, he still insists that it is better to serve his term until then end (he is to be released in April) than to write a petition for clemency to the President.

I have my own views”, wr...

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Vasil Parfiankou is kept in Zhodzina penitentiary

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Former political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou is kept in the transit point of Zhodzina penitentiary, from which he will be transferred to Horki penitentiary. He wrote about it in a letter to public activist and film producer Volha Mikalaichyk.

He wrote that he was taken to Zhodzina and the conditions are very hard there. The prisoners are prohibited to sit on the bunks even during the daytime, and have to walk all day after making their beds. However, his main complaint is the real information hunder. There is no TV set and he receives no newspapers. He has no money on his acccount, as his 500,000 rubles still haven’t been returned by the activity therapy center in Svetlahorsk. He cannot buy any postcards or envelopes to write anyone,” said Mikalaichyk.

Vasil Parfiankou wrote a letter in...

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Autukhovich’s wife : the authorities force Mikalai to violate prison regulations

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On 6 January 2014, political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich was allowed a short meeting with his wife Alena Autukhovich. Following this meeting, she said that he was regularly provoked by the prison authorities, who intend to make him violate prison regulations.

Earlier, his mother Lidziya Autukhovich reported to Radio “Liberty” that she had sent a medical parcel to her son back in the middle of December. However, in his latest letter, Autukhovich wrote he hadn’t received the parcel. Did he receive it by the time of the meeting with his wife? Alena Autukhovich says her husband has received neither the parcel, nor envelopes and postcards. Consequently, the political prisoner couldn’t congratulate his friends on the New Year, for which he apologizes.

Lidziya Autukhovich, his mother, is ver...

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Platforma Innovation: There are less and less prisoners in Belarus, but their treatment fails to improve

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In their annual monitoring report released today, activists of human rights NGO Platforma Innovation note that the number of inmates held in Belarusian jails has decreased, but their overall conditions of detention have not  improved.

It is Platforma’s second overview of the situation with the rights of prisoners in Belarus. These surveys are done on the basis of available statistics, unofficial reports from prisons and other sources. Personal experience can also help sort out the situation.

The NGO’s head Andrei Bandarenka himself served more than two years behind bars. The human rights activist says that from the moment of detention, the situation with the prisoner’s rights is very poor. Policemen often refuse to call a lawyer if the detainee does not admit his guilt...

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FIDH and “Viasna” demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mikola Statkevich and other political prisoners

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Today marks the three-year anniversary of the heavy-handed crackdown on a protest meeting in Minsk’s Independence Square. This event was followed by a wave of arrests, detentions, and subsequent prosecutions of opposition members, activists, citizens, and several presidential candidates participating in peaceful demonstrations throughout Minsk. The opposition politician and presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich was also arrested on December 19, 2010, and remains in prison to this day.

On May 26, 2011, the Lenin District Court sentenced Mr. Statkevich to six years of deprivation of freedom with service of sentence at a medium security penal colony under Article 293(2) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Mr. Statkevich has currently served half of his sentence...
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Information about torture in KGB jail is “state secret”

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Upon release from the KGB detention center in March 2011 former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich reported numerous facts of abuse and torture, and filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office urging the officials to investigate the allegations.

While the politician was in Belarus, the prosecuting authorities could not answer his request, and only after his departure abroad, it reported that as a result of the probe it was decided to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings.

Recently Ales Mikhalevich’s lawyer received a curious document.

It turns out that materials of the inspection carried out following my torture report is a state secret...

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Uladzimir Yaromenak to be imprisoned on 11 December

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Today Uladzimir Yaromenak has been informed about the day when he will start serving three months arrest. He must come to the Pershamaiski District Police Department with his personal belongings on 11 December. From there he will be taken to the prison in Valadarski Street.

According to the activist, he will not appeal the court verdict, as it can take much time, reports the press service of the “Young Front”.

Bear in mind that the activist was sentenced to three months of arrest on 20 August 2013 for violating the rules of preventive supervision.

Uladzimir Yaromenak is involved in the criminal case on mass riots in Minsk on 19 December 2010. He was sentenced to three years in a maximum security prison, but was released in August 2011 on the basis of the presidential decree of pardon.

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Statement by Center “Viasna” and Belarusian Helsinki Committee on the sentence to Vasil Parfiankou

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The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the republican NGO “Belarusian Helsinki Committeee” regard the sentencing of the public activist Vasil Parfiankou to imprisonment for violation of preventive supervision as politically motivated persecution.

In February 2011 Vasil Parfiankou was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (” participation in mass disorders”) for participation in protest against electoral fraud during the presidential election, and in August of the same year was pardoned under a presidential decree.

After his release, Vasil Parfiankou continued public activities and was repeatedly detained for participation in protests in support of political prisoners who have remain behind bars.

After participating in a peaceful assembly dedi...

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