In late February, popular Belarusian blogger Syarhei Petrukhin who is now being held in prison Nr 4 in Mahiliou, cut his wrists in protest, local activist Uladzimir Shantsau said on Thursday.
“What egged him on [to slitting wrists] was appalling insanitariness in the cell he had been transferred to as well as the impossibility of sharing the cell with the people he met there,” Shantsau wrote on Facebook.
As a penance, Syarhei Pyatrukhin was placed in a disciplinary unit on February 27, he is to stay there until March 17, the activist stressed. Now his health state is satisfactory; today Syarhei has had a meeting with his defence lawyer.
On February 11, a Mahiliou court started hearing the case of Brest bloggers Syarhei Pyatrukhin and Alyaksandr Kabanau. As reported earlier, journalists and friends were not allowed into the courtroom.
Alyaksandr Kabanau, the then press secretary of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s local initiative group, was detained on June 15 and placed in a temporary detention centre of Leninski district police department of Brest. A local court arrested blogger him for 15 days. He was accused of participating in an ‘unauthorised mass event’ (Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Then the police raided his parents’ home, and the blogger was transferred to the prison in Minsk.
Syarhei Pyatrukhin, a Brest-based author of YouTube channels People’s Reporter and Youtube Deputies, was also detained in mid June, sentenced to 15 days in jail and taken to the capital city.
Later, the both men were charged under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (organisation and preparation for actions that grossly violate public order). If found guilty, the defendants may face up to three years of imprisonment.
The Belarusian human rights defenders recognised them as political prisoners. They believe that the charges are politically motivated and linked to Pyatrukhin’s and Kabanau’s vlogging. The two men exposed corruption in the region and spoke out about social-environmental problems, including the hazardous battery plant in the city of Brest.