On September 14, a Telegram channel close to Belarusian law enforcement agencies reported that a criminal case was opened against blogger Vadzim Yermashuk aka Vadimati, Hrodna.life reports.
According to the pro-regime Telegram channel, the reason for initiating the case was ‘comments insulting the president on Instagram’.
Vadzim Yermashuk’s cousin Natallya says that the Hrodna resident might be faulted for his speech and statements at a rally in August 2020, and social media profiles might be listed as ‘extremist’. The authorities are reluctant to release Yermashuk, more new cases will be initiated to put him behind bars for long, she believes.
“I have heard that they want to launch a case against him for insulting the president, to recognise his Instagram as extremist. As far back as 14 August 2020, when people were in the square and representatives of the [Hrodna] city executive committee came out, there was a microphone, and Vadzim took the floor. I do not know what he said, but they allegedly want to charge him with calls [for protests],” Natallya said.
Vadzim Yermashuk is an Instagram blogger and seller at the Karona market. In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, he attended trials of political prisoners and spoke against police violence.
At the moment, the 36-year-old man is serving administrative arrest in the town of Shchuchyn. Last week, Vadzim Yermashuk was sentenced to another 15 days in jail. Then he was serving a 25-day term.
One more administrative case was initiated against Yermashuk on the back of his calling the 115 service. According to the prosecutor’s version, then the man used bad language when speaking about the housing system and the city executive committee. The hearing of the new case began on September 8; it was conducted by video link. Notably, the trial was postponed for two days in a row due to Vadzim’s ill health. As he had fever and hypertension, an ambulance was called to him.
On August 16, Vadimati was detained over allegedly calling for taking part in an unofficial sports event at a skate playground in the town of Shchuchyn (Hrodna region). Charged under Art. 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences (violating rules of holding mass events), Yermashuk was tried in Shchuchyn district court on August 19. As a sign of protest, Vadzim refused to eat behind bars, where he spent three days awaiting his trial.