‘Son is in disciplinary cell’: Mother of minor political prisoner Mikita Zalatarou barred from visiting him

Mikita Zalatarou in court. Photo: svaboda.org

Mikita Zalatarou, an underage political prisoner and a patient with epilepsy, was not allowed to see his mother who came to the Babruysk penal colony on October 2, naviny.online reports.

In addition, the prison authorities refused to hand over a food parcel to 17-year-old Mikita.

“’Your son is in punitive confinement,’ some uptight man in uniform told her. The food products were not accepted, and she brought everything back. When asked to take a photo of the son to show her that he was alive, the guard answered that such things are forbidden. And she had to return home with a heavy heart,” Mikita’s father Mikhail Lapunou said.

In late February, Mikita Zalatarou (he was 16 at that moment) was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment in a correctional colony for ‘violence against an internal affairs officer’, ‘illegal actions with flammable substances’, and ‘organizing mass riots’. The teenager was detained on August 11, 2020; in accordance with the investigators’ version, he threw Molotov cocktails at the military. Mikita pleaded not guilty.

Underage political prisoner Mikita Zalatarou gets another sentence. He suffers from epilepsy

Mikita Zalatarou suffers from epilepsy. The young man and his father say that Mikita was beaten in the both police station and pre-trial detention centre in August and late December. In turn, the officials claimed the internal check showed no elements of the violence against the arrestee. The prison authorities also refused to provide him with anti-epileptic drugs, Mikita said.

In the summer of 2021, Mikita Zalatarou was accused of using violence against an officer of the pre-trial detention centre and threatening another employee and her family. In mid July, a Homiel court sentenced him to another 1.5 years of imprisonment. The defendant admitted his guilt, but according to him, ‘it was not violence, but resistance’; he claims that he voiced threats in a state of emotional conflict, with no intention to carry them out.

The Belarusian human rights authorities recognised Mikita Zalatarou as a political prisoner; Amnesty International called on the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the young man.

Amnesty International: Belarus authorities targeting minors to clamp down on dissent