The case of artist Ales Pushkin has been submitted to court, the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office reports.
Ales Pushkin, whom the Belarusian authorities accuse of ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’, was arrested in late March. Earlier, Hrodna prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case against him, Pavel Mazheika (the head of the private institution ‘Centre for Urban Life’ and Belsat journalist) as well as other persons for ‘committing deliberate acts aimed at the rehabilitation and justification of Nazism’ (Article 130-3 of the Criminal Code).
On March 19, the exhibition in the Centre showed a portrait of soldier Yauhen Zhykhar with an automatic gun on his shoulder, the author of the work is Ales Pushkin. According to the case materials, during the German occupation in the summer of 1944, Zhykhar was trained in the special unit of the Abwehr and in December of the same year was planted by the Nazis in Polatsk district. During the exhibition, Ales Pushkin characterised Zhykhar as a fighter against the Bolsheviks, which might have drawn the authorities’ anger down on him.
On March 27, security forces raided Pushkin’s house in the village of Bobr. Notably, five OMON riot policement and officers of the Investigative Committee started searching the place at about 2 am. They seized computer equipment and mobile phones from all family members, including Pushkin’s two minor kids. In addition, the intruders destroyed the paintings and broke the glass in the artist’s studio.
According to the authorities, Pushkin ‘committed actions aimed at promoting Nazism and the activities of Belarusian collaborationist organisations’. He was faulted for painting the portraits of Mikhail Vitushka, Usevalad Rodzka, Yauhen Zhykhar. „During the Second World War the characters depicted by Ales Pushkin carried out and deliberately contributed to the orders of Nazi bodies and organisations recognised as criminal by the verdict of the International Military Tribunal,” the Prosecutor General’s Office claims, stressing that the suspect ‘was seeking to bury in oblivion the lessons of the destructive war’.
Later, Ales Pushkin was also accused of ‘mockery of state symbols’: the prosecutors say that on 21-24 March Pushkin mocked at the state symbols of the Republic of Belarus in Kyiv during his performance action.
The Belarusian human rights community recognised Ales Pushkin as a political prisoner.