Artist Ales Pushkin sent to psychiatric hospital for examination

A well-known artist, participant of international exhibitions, author of flash mobs and performances, Ales Pushkin, has been sent to a psychiatric hospital in Navinki for examination, Belsat has learned.

Artist Ales Pushkin at a protest rally. Summer 2020. Photo: Personal archive of Ales Pushkin

On November 30, Ales Pushkin will have been in jail for eight months. He has been repeatedly thrown into solitary confinement and offered to write a petition for clemency. But the artist refused. He faces up to 12 years in prison for displaying a portrait of Yauhen Zhykhar, a member of the post-war anti-Soviet resistance at an exhibition. According to the authorities, this is “rehabilitation of Nazism”.

The Belarusian artist Ales Pushkin was detained by the police on March 30 in the village of Zhylichy, Kirau district, Mahiliou region.

Before that, a criminal case was initiated on March 26. The Hrodna city prosecutor’s office launched a case against Pushkin and Pavel Mazheika, head of Center of City Life and others, “for committing deliberate actions, aimed at rehabilitation and justification of Nazism” under part 3 of article 130 of the Criminal Code (“incitement of hatred”).

It was all over the posting of a portrait of Yauhen Zhykhar with an automatic gun on his shoulder, made by the artist Ales Pushkin. The portrait was put up at an exhibition, held in the Center of City Life on March 19.

Belarusian human rights activists have recognized Ales Pushkin a political prisoner.

Now law enforcement officers are checking all of the artist’s works, looking for opposition activities towards the current regime. For example, investigators are questioning Pushkin’s cycle of works “The Belarusian resistance”, created in the late 90s.

This is not the first time Ales Pushkin has been behind bars. Lukashenka’s regime was also irritated by the artist’s performances, which he had been staging for more than 30 years. For example, such as “Gift to the President for five years of fruitful work!”, when in 1999 Pushkin wheeled a barrow of dung painted red to Lukashenka’s residence. It contained Belarusian rubles, Lukashenka’s 1994 election poster “Alyaksandr Lukashenka with the people,” the national flag, toy handcuffs, a shirt with national ornaments, a wreath of cornflower, and white gloves. In August 2020, the artist went to the protest carrying an icon. He was against election fraud and violence by security forces. He was severely beaten and thrown behind bars.