The Belarusian human rights community has recognised five more people behind bars as political prisoners. All in all, there are 454 political prisoners in Belarus, reports human rights centre Viasna.
On June 1, in response to the new cases of conviction and imprisonment on defamatory charges and on charges of insulting the state symbols of Belarus, human rights activists once again reaffirmed their repeated demands to decriminalise defamation and refrain from imprisoning individuals for insulting officials, the state, government agencies and symbols.
According to them, the following persons imprisoned for insulting the president, government officials (police officers), judges and insulting state symbols:
Six human rights watchdogs have considered the persecution and imprisonment of Ruslan Valyuk, Artsyom Kandratsiyeu, Dzmitry Lukashevich, Andrey Sharenda, and Syarhei Rudzinski to be politically motivated, as they are related to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. They call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release all political prisoners as well as drop criminal charges against them.