On March 24, eight human rights watchdogs issued a joint statement on jailing and charging reputed Belarusian media worker and expert Dzyanis Ivashyn.
Dzyanis Ivashyn, a Hrodna-based journalist contributing to Informnapalm OSINT community and the Novy Chas newspaper, was detained on March, 12. On the same day, the officers of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) raided his flat in Hrodna as well as his parents’ place.
A few days later, Ivashyn was accused under Art. 365 of the Criminal Code (‘interference in a police officer’s activity’). He was arrested for two months and placed in the KGB remand prison.
On the back of post-election protests in Belarus, Novy Chas published the investigative report by Ivashyn in which he said that a number of former soldiers of the Ukrainian special forces unit Berkut were taking part in the brutal crackdown on Belarusian protesters. In 2014, pro-Yanukovych Berkut riot police were tainted by killings and torture of Euromaidan defenders. When the unit was disbanded, many Berkutters fled to Russia and Belarus, where some of them were spotted in dispersing peaceful rallies, Ivashyn states.
“Dzyanis Ivashyn’s work to investigate the Belarusian jobs of the former Berkut members pursued a legitimate goal of informing the public. Information for the journalistic investigation was taken from open sources,” the statement reads.
According to them, Ivashyn’s actions were a non-violent exercise of the freedom to seek and disseminate information, which falls under the protection of Art. 19 of the ICCPR and cannot be classified as ‘influencing a police officer’ in order to ‘change the nature of his lawful activities’.
In light of this, the Belarusian human rights community considered the detention of Dzyanis Ivashyn to be politically motivated and recognised him as a political prisoner. They called the Belarusian authorities immediately and unconditionally release Ivashyn from custody and drop the criminal charges brought against him.
As of March 25, there are 302 names of political prisoners on the list being updated by Belarusian human rights defenders since the summer of 2020.