‘Violating public order’: Reputed human rights defenders Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsyana Lasitsa get jail terms

On November 3, Tsentralny district court of Homiel completed hearing and passed guilty verdicts in the case of Leanid Sudalenka, human rights defender and chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the human rights centre Viasna, as well as volunteer Tatsyana Lasitsa, HRC Viasna reports.

Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsyana Lasitsa in court. Photo: gomelspring.org

On 18 January 2021, the local police arrested the two human rights activists (along with volunteer Maryia Tarasenka). They were charged with ‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’ (Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code) and ‘training persons to participate in such actions, as well as their financing” (Article 342-2) and taken into custody (later, Tarasenka was released on her own recognizance).

Imprisoned human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka refuses to file petition for pardon

On September 3, Sudalenka, Lasitsa, Tarasenka started to be tried in Homiel. In total, about 200 people were interrogated in the trial. 61 people testified in court – mostly clients who contacted the human rights activist seeking legal assistance.

“According to Sudalenka, the case file features such absurd accusations as buying firewood to a family whose father was convicted of ‘rioting’; appearing in a video on YouTube to explain the essence of peaceful assembly, a post on social media calling to meet a protester after term in a detention center, arranging a seminar on digital security for human rights defenders, and payment of fines, court fees and the services of lawyers,” the HRC Viasna reports.

On October 13, prosecutors Yauhen Fartushnyak and Kiryl Vyshnyakou demand that Leanid Sudalenka and Tatsyana Lasitsa get three years in prison each, Maryia Tarasenka – to 2.5 years in prison. Today judge Syarhei Salouski has taken heed of the prosecutors’ demands and sentenced Sudalenka and Lasitsa to 3 and 2.5 years of imprisonment in a minimum security penal colony, respectively.

It should be noted that Maryia Tarasenka managed to flee Belarus. She is now standing safe and secure.

Homiel: Hours-long police raid on human rights defenders’ office