Journalist Dzyanis Ivashyn gets heart attack behind bars

Imprisoned media worker Dzyanis Ivashyn who was earlier placed in a disciplinary cell underwent a cardiac seizure there, his mother Lyudmila said on Monday evening.

“Today I have found out that Dzyanis had a heart attack while being in solitary confinement. Such things had never happened to him before. No wonder, his cell is like a steam bath – the windows are closed; we were not allowed to hand over a fan to him. All this is nothing but torture,” she wrote on Facebook.

It should be noted that there are now challenging hot weather conditions in Belarus. Lyudmila Ivashyna also appealed to ‘all the punishers who took part in detaining Dzyanis, his being arrested and taken into custody, to all those under the authority of whom he is now’:

“You realize that you are fully responsible for the LIFE and HEALTH of Dzyanis Ivashyn as well as for all those whom you unfairly and illegally keep in your cells. Do you understand that their relatives and friends will not forgive you for abusing and humiliating [the prisoners]? Do you understand that sooner or later you will be hold liable for the unlawful acts you have committed?”

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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’).

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 stated.

On March 24, the Belarusian human rights community recognised him as a political prisoner. According to human rights defenders, 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’.

Last tribute to political prisoner Vitold Ashurak. He died behind bars under unclear circumstances