Belarusian artist Ales Pushkin arrested

Ales Pushkin. Photo: Radio Svaboda

Artist Ales Pushkin, whom the Belarusian authorities accuse of ‘rehabilitation of Nazism’, has been arrested on Tuesday afternoon, Nasha Niva reports.

Pushkin was busy with repair and restoration work when officers of Kirau police department demanded he follow them for ‘having a talk’, eyewitnesses say. As the artist refused to obey, he was handcuffed and taken away by four policemen.

Last week, Hrodna prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case against the head of the private institution ‘Centre for Urban Life’ and Belsat journalist Pavel Mazheika, artist Ales Pushkin, as well as other persons for ‘committing deliberate acts aimed at the rehabilitation and justification of Nazism’ (Article 130-3 of the Criminal Code).

On March 19, the exhibition in the Centre showed a portrait of soldier Yauhen Zhykhar with an automatic gun on his shoulder, the author of the work is Ales Pushkin. According to the case materials, during the German occupation in the summer of 1944, Zhykhar was trained in the special unit of the Abwehr and in December of the same year was planted by the Nazis in Polatsk district. During the exhibition, Ales Pushkin characterised Zhykhar as a fighter against the Bolsheviks, which might have drawn the authorities’ anger down on him.

On March 27, security forces raided Pushkin’s house in the village of Bobr. Notably, five OMON riot policement and officers of the Investigative Committee started searching the place at about 2 am. They seized computer equipment and mobile phones from all family members, including Pushkin’s two minor kids. In addition, the intruders destroyed the paintings and broke the glass in the artist’s studio.

Earlier, Belsat TV journalist Pavel Mazheika was also detained as part of the case, but on Monday he was released after 72 hours of arrest as grounds for his detention reportedly disappeared. At the same time, the criminal case is still being investigated.

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