Polatsk: Man gets 5 years in jail for ‘violence threats, insulting president’ on web

A 29-year-old resident of Polatsk district was tried and found guilty of violating three articles of the Criminal Code, the Prosecutor General’s Office reports.

According to the agency, the man ‘posted comments on the Internet calling for violence against law enforcement officers and the President of the Republic of Belarus, as well as insults of the head of state’ in the period of October 2019 to July 2020.

The defendant was charged with:

  • ‘deliberate actions aimed at inciting social hatred on the grounds of another social affiliation’ (Part 1 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code);
  • ‘publicly insulting the President of the Republic of Belarus’ (Part 1 of Article 368);
  • ‘threat of violence against the President of the Republic of Belarus in order to prevent his lawful activities; compulsion to change the nature of these activities in retaliation for performing official duties’ (Part 1 of Article 366).

The panel of Vitsebsk regional court sentenced the man to five years of imprisonment in a medium security penal colony.

In China’s shoes: Lukashenka set to get Belarusian IT sector under control

On 9 August, the large-scale protests started in the country on the back of announcing the preliminary results of the 2020 presidential election; the major demands of Belarusians were Alyaksndr Lukashenka’s resignation; holding a free and fair election; releasing political prisoners; putting an end to police violence as well as bringing to justice those involved in battering and torturing peaceful demonstrators.

The Belarusian Investigative Committee states that more than 2,400 criminal cases related to the protests have been launched since August, and the Prosecutor General’s Office claims that more than 3,000 such ‘crimes’ have been registered during that period. The exact number of politically motivated criminal cases still remains unknown. Over 33,000 Belarusians have faced detention; there are at least seven death cases that are linked to the post-election protests. By the moment, 354 persons have been recognised as political prisoners by the Belarusian human rights community.

The Belarusian authorities admitted receiving some 900 complaints of abuse by police in connection with the protests, but by the end of the year not a single criminal investigation had been opened, nor had any law enforcement officer been charged with respective violations, Amnesty International experts said in April.

Amnesty International: Belarus authorities used torture, ill-treatment against detainees, but no police officer charged yet