Former political prisoner detained for returning to family

Andrei Novikau. Photo: Radio Racyja

On the evening of April 13, former political prisoner Andrei Novikau was detained in Pastavy. Andrei came to visit his wife and children. He is accused of article 371 of the Criminal Code of Belarus. 371 of the Criminal Code (“Illegal crossing of the state border of the Republic of Belarus”). He could face up to five years in jail.

Andrei Novikau was a defendant in the “Tsikhanouski case.” He lived with his family in the Pastavy district. When he was deported, his family stayed in Belarus.

Andrei was detained on June 6 while driving a tractor near his village. He was transferred to the detention center on Valadarski Street in Minsk. He spent almost half a year behind bars.

On 26 October, Andrei Novikau was taken to highway M1 on the Russian Federation border and given his passport with a ban to come to Belarus for 10 years. He sent a message about it to the Hlubokaye telegram channel.

Andrei Novikau has a wife and two children left in the Pastavy district. The youngest daughter is a year and a half. After a difficult delivery, the family could not leave at that time; his wife needed rehabilitation and medical consultations.

Novikau was a volunteer in Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s election campaign, collecting signatures for her nomination. He was charged under the same article as Syarhei Tsikhanouski, part 1 of article 342 of the Criminal Code (“Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate the public order”). 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (“Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order”).

Novikau complained that he was deported from Belarus without observing any legal norms and procedures and that his status in the criminal case after deportation was unknown: “The arrest was canceled without any explanations.”

Andrei Novikau is a Belarusian; he was born in Varapayeva, Pastavy district; after school, he studied and served in Ussuriysk, Russia. He worked in the police and has the rank of retired lieutenant colonel. He was twice involved in military operations in Chechnya.