Man sentenced to 25 days in jail on verge of death

Aleh Zayats went out for a walk near his house on January 23 and was taken to the Akrestsin street jail. He was sentenced to 25 days – the maximum possible term. His toes had been amputated and he also has cancer. As a sign of protest, Aleh went on a dry hunger strike, completely refusing food and water.

Aleh Zayats (with a stick) during one of the marches.
Photo: Roza Letava

The hunger strike as a protest

“All the days since the detention Aleh has been refusing food and water. This can be confirmed by all the 24 people in our six-person cell,” says a man who was in jail with Aleh on Akrestsina street and in Zhodzina.

According to the Belsat source, on January 28th – five days after the detention – Aleh Zayats felt very sick. He could not even get out of bed, his skin was gray. His legs were frostbitten.

“Aleh was sentenced to 25 days, despite numerous inconsistencies in the testimony of a witness and in the detention protocol, to which he pointed out in court! They took away his stick, without which Aleh cannot move around due to pain in his feet. He went on hunger strike in support for Ihar Losik and against his illegal detention,” says an eyewitness of these events.

Aleh Zayats.
Photo: Rosa Letava

Aleh was accused under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences (“Participation in unauthorized mass events”) and Article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offences (“Resistance to an official in the performance of his duties”).

Svyatlana, Aleh’s neighbor, said that he refused to testify on camera – it was seen as resistance. She admits she is very worried about her neighbor: his family supports Lukashenka and that’s why she can’t expect any help from them.

In jail till February 16

On Monday, 8 January, there was a court session at which Aleh’s defense tried to appeal the verdict. Unfortunately, the court upheld the previous verdict. But at the hearing it was reported that Aleh had stopped the hunger strike. Why and when it happened is unknown. Also at this point there is no information about his state of health.

It is only known that Alehis supposed to be released on February 16. He used to work at St. Elizabeth’s Monastery, where he also sold his products. The Orthodox community has launched an appeal to Metropolitan Veniamin to save Zayats.

Aleh Zayats is not the only Belarusian prisoner who went on hunger strike for his rights. Blogger Ihar Losik starved for 42 days. He decided to eat because other people started to starve along with him.

We also know about the hunger strike of Homiel resident Ihar Krauchanka. He protests against his unjust arrest. The other day, Ihar was to be released after 15 days, but remained behind bars for the same period. The reason for another punishment is unknown.

Kseniya Tarasevich/