People sentenced in bulk for pro-independence protests in Belarus

According to Ales Bialiatski, harsh sentences indicate the beginning of the presidential campaign of Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Photo: Forum, TASS

About 80 trials were held in Belarus after Christmas. For three days, courts in different regions of the country fined and arrested the activists, who decided to fight for independence and sovereignty of Belarus.

Sentences were passed on the basis of parts 1 and 3 of Article 23.34 of the CAO for organizing or participating in unauthorized mass protests. The trials were held in Minsk, Vitsebsk, Lida, Pinsk, Homiel and Dubrovichy district.

Both well-known politicians and activists of various parties, organizations and movements were tried. Bloggers, journalists, writers, priests and even diplomats and other supporters of independence of Belarus were also sentenced.

Co-chairman of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Pavel Sevyarynets was sentenced to another 30 days of arrest, bloggers Zmitser Kazlou, known as the “Grey Cat”, and Siarhei Tsikhanouski were sentenced to 15 days. Earlier they had already been convicted for 15 days. Sevyarynets was additionally fined.

The total amount of fines for January 8-10 was 54,513 BYN or about $ 25,700.

About 60 people were fined in total. Some of them were tried several times. Fines in the amount of 2,700 were imposed on Alena Tolstaya, Maxim Urbanovich, Andrei Hrankou, Svyatlana Kavalenko and Mikalai Kazlou, 2,025 BYN — Vital Tryhubau, 1,620 — Tatsiana Sevyarynets and Alena Yanushkouskaya.

Pavel Sevyarynets, Viktar Kavalkou (father Vikentsiy), Valery Bychkousky, Syarhey Sporysh, Andrey Sharenda, Yauhen Batura, Nina Bahinskaya, Maryna Adamovich and Volha Kavalkova are to pay 1,350 to the budget. Hanna Shaputska was fined 1,215 BYN.

Ihar Kruvchanka, Pyotr Sadousky, Vyachaslau and Maryna Kasinerau, Syarhei Antonchyk, Leanid Akalovich, Alyaksei Marachkin, Barys Anikeyeu and Uladzimir Nyaklyayeu were fined 810, Anatoly Lyabedzka, Alyaksei Sudak, Yury Tatur, Yury Byalensky, Yuru Hubarevich, Andrey Rohau, Halina Lahatskaya, Ihar Lyalkau, Danila Lauretsky, Iryna Tsap, Eduard Palchys.

Vitaly Savich, Natallia Ladutska, Volha Bykouskaya and Natallia Strelchanka must pay 675, Mikalai Trafimchuk, Barys Dubrousky, Halina Zhukouskaya must pay 540, Uladzimir Arlou and Uladzimir Salauyiou 405 BYN – Ihar Barysau and Anton Zhylko, 270 BYN — Mikalai Mikhalevich and Dzmitry Tarasyuk, 135 BYN – Tatsiana Kebikava, 108 BYN — Lyudmila Alekhina.

The cases against another dozen activists were sent for revision or postponed, while 18-year-old Illya Shablinski from Lida received a warning.

And who were the judges?

Of course, in such pipeline work one should not forget about those who passed sentences. At least 5 sentences were given by judges Alyaksei Kisliak, Yulia Hustyr and Ivan Kastsyan, at least 4 by Natallia Dzyadkova, Yulia Shut, Valery Esman, at least 3 by Yury Mashketau, Anatoliy Barysionak, Tatsiana Shotsik, Tatsiana Akavita, Alyaksandr Rudenka.

Lawyer Aleh Yurchanka and blogger Siarhey Tsikhanousky during the trial. Photo

Two sentences were passed by Yulia Varaksa, Tatsiana Motyl, Alena Zhyvitsa, Alyaksandr Patsko, Anastasia Leukouskaya, Hanna Ihnatsyeva, Volha Nyaborskaya, Maksim Trusevich, Anastasia Asipchyk.

Also among those who tried the supporters of independence were Lidziya Tsyalitsa, Viktar Kozak, Vera Halauvkova, Alyaksandr Makhar, Vyachaslau Matsuka, Svyatlana Charapovich, Siarhey Laurynovich and others.

Lukashenka has started his presidential campaign

In a comment to, chairman of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski linked so many fines and arrests to the approaching presidential campaign in 2020. According to him, Alyaksandr Lukashenka is trying to bring down the wave of protests, which gained strength during the actions against the deepening integration with Russia.

A rally for independence.
Photo: Iryna Arakhouskaya,

At the same time, the human rights activist said, the authorities have divided the protesters into two groups according to the perception of possible danger from them. Those who, according to the authorities, pose a lesser threat were punished with fines. The second group included the organizers of the protests, including the “heart of protests” Pavel Sevyarynets and independent bloggers, who were sentenced to arrest. At the same time, Ales Bialiatski believes that the authorities are engaged in a targeted campaign against bloggers in order to stop them from spreading information, which is also exemplified by the criminal prosecution of Siarhey Pyatrukhin from Brest and Andrei Spidzer in October 2019.

The detention for 1-1.5 months, according to the human rights activist, can be regarded as cruel treatment, especially given the conditions in Belarusian detention facilities.