A new Code of Administrative Offences came into force in Belarus on 1 March 2021. The changes have affected the “political” articles, too. What do Belarusians need to know about the new document?
How long can I be arrested for?
As before, the maximum arrest is 15 days. But there is one exception. It is about the main “political” article. Now it is not 23.34, but 24.23, but the idea is the same: “violation of the order of organizing or holding mass events. If the offense is repeatedly committed within a year, the maximum fine rises from 100 to 200 basic units (from 150 to 200 in the case of the organizers). The time limit is even 30 days.
Can they punish only with arrest and a fine?
No. A new type of punishment was introduced – community service. You can get it under political articles as well. They provide for free work in your spare time from your main job, service or training, aimed “at achieving socially useful goals.”
The term can be from 8 to 60 hours. You can work no more than 4 hours a day.
Is the article 23.4 still there?
Yes, disobedience to the lawful demand of an official is still there, but the number of the article was changed from 23.4 to 24.3. Belarusians who dared to participate in protests were also often punished for this. Maryia Kalesnikava’s lawyer Liudzmila Kazak was deprived of her license altogether because of the offense under this article. The maximum fine for disobeying a police officer or other official will increase to 100 basic units (previously it was 50). Getting community service and arrest is also possible.
How else can political protesters be punished?
Responsibility for insulting a public official on the Internet has been introduced: it can be punished with a fine of up to 200 basic units, community service, and administrative detention. Responsibility of website owners for dissemination of “extremist” information remains.
There is now liability for funding of the media by foreign legal entities, foreign nationals or stateless persons in cases where it is prohibited by law, as well as by anonyms. The punishment will be a fine of up to 50 basic units. They may seize the funds and even property.
A separate article 24.26 (“Illegal use and manufacture of flags and symbols”) can now be punished for flags. This is punishable by a fine of 5 to 20 basic units (individual entrepreneurs – from 10 to 40, legal entities – from 20 to 60).