Around hundred Belarusians convicted in ‘political’ criminal cases in February

Mikita Zalatarou (C) in court. Homiel, 22 February 2021. Photo: Belsat

No fewer than 102 persons (88 men and 14 women) were punished as part of politically motivated cases in February, human rights centre Viasna reports.

49 convicts were imprisoned; 26 persons were sentenced to the restriction of liberty and serving in a correctional facility, 21 – to the restriction of liberty without being sent to a correctional facility. Three protesters were fined, another three got detention terms.

Notably, three minors heard guilty verdicts: Mikita Zalatarou was sentenced to 6 years in jail, Vitaly Prokharau and Dzmitry Stryzhak – to 2 years each.

100 days of Belarusian protest

In most cases (39), the defendants were found guilty under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation and preparation of group actions that grossly violate public order’), 17 – under Art. 369 (‘insulting a person in public authority’), 15 – under Art. 364 (‘violence or threat of violence against a police officer’), 12 – under Art. 293 (‘mass riots’), 11 – under Art. 339 (‘hooliganism’).

On 9 August 2020, the large-scale protests started in the country; the major demands of Belarusians were Alyaksndr Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence as well as bringing to justice those involved in battering and torturing peaceful demonstrators. In the post-election period criminal cases were instituted against more than 900 citizens, including Belsat TV journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova. There are at least seven death cases that are linked to the post-election protests. By the moment, 258 defendants were recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community.

Several thousand detainees filed complaints against police officers’ illegal actions to the Investigative Committee. However, not a single criminal case has been opened over the citizens’ appeals.

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