Political convictions in Belarus in 2021

In 2021, at least 1,285 people were convicted in criminal cases of a political nature. Liberty restriction was applied in 41.8% of the cases.

The results of the political trials for 2021. Image: spring96.org

The Human Rights Center “Viasna” recently published calculations of the trial results in political criminal cases from last year. A total of 1,992 years of incarceration for 537 people, 673 years of freedom restriction in an open-type institution (“chemistry”) for 305 people and 740 years of “home chemistry” for 379 people, 6 years of arrest for 29 people, and 310 thousand Belarusian rubles in fines for 33 people.

And that’s all in criminal cases alone, not including fines and administrative arrests .

The most “popular” criminal articles were “Group actions that grossly violate public order” (article 342 of the Criminal Code) — 416 people were convicted. “Insulting a representative of the authorities” (article 369) — 34 people were convicted and sentenced. (Article 369) — 344 convicts. “Participation in mass riot” (part 2 of Article 293) — 161 convicts, “Violence against a police officer” (Article 364) — 139 convicts, “Insulting the President” (Article 368) — 115 convicts.

The majority of those convicted were from the Minsk and Brest regions.

The results of trials in political criminal cases in 2021. Image: spring96.org.

Human rights activists have also noted a significant increase in the maximum penalty period under the political articles of the Criminal Code. For example, previously, the maximum penalty for “insulting state symbols” was one year of freedom restriction. Now it is up to three years of imprisonment. For “slander” and “insulting a public official” people used to get only restriction of liberty for up to three years. Now it is up to three years in jail. “Desecration of buildings” (i.e. graffiti or stickers) entailed the maximum penalty increase from three months of arrest to three years in prison. Other “popular” political articles saw a year or two added to the maximum sentence.

Brest judges Yauhen Brehan, Vera Filonik and Alyaksandr Semyanchuk handed down the most political sentences. There were more than three dozen of them.

The results of the trials in political criminal cases for 2021. Image: spring96.org