An Orthodox Christian priest and two medical students have announced hunger-striking in support of imprisoned blogger Ihar Losik who started fasting in protest more than a month ago.
On January 19, Marharyta Trafimovich and Eleanora Arzumanyan, the students of the Belarusian State Medical University, embarked on hunger strike to show solidarity with Ihar Losik. On the same day, TUT.by published a letter from Fr Uladzislau Bahamolnikau, a priest of the orthodox Church of the Epiphany in Minsk.
“I am going to be on a hunger-strike as long as Ihar continues it. If something irreparable happens, I will try to hold out for as many days as he did. I hope the situation will not run to that, and his measure of restraint will be changed to house arrest, or he [Losik] will give up the idea if he finds out that now it is not only about his health,” the priest stressed.
According to the man, Ihar is making a mistake, because the authorities ‘do not seem to care about what will happen to him’.
“I am sure that each and everyone might change. And the official, on whom Ihar Losik’s life now depends, may either take responsibility for his life or resign so as not to be responsible for another option [ihar’s death]. And their successor will have to face the same choice. Today I have written a letter to Ihar. I did not try to dissuade him, but I informed him of my decision. Let him do as he thinks best,” Father Uladzislau said.
Ihar Losik is known as an administrator of the popular Telegram channel Belamova which actively covered the events around the 2020 election campaign in Belarus. On June 25, his place in the town of Baranavichy was searched; the man was then arrested. Human rights activists recognised Losik as a political prisoner and urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately release him.
He was charged under Article 342-1 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’) and Art. 293 (‘preparation for participating in mass riots’).
Pleading not guilty and considers his criminal prosecution to be politically motivated, he went on an indefinite hunger strike ‘until all accusations were dropped or the measure of restraint was changed’. According to Losik, he has already spent half a year in prison on ‘the absurd charge’; he ‘would have had to use a teleporter’ in order to commit that crime, he stressed in his address published on Telegram. Later, however, the detention period for the political prisoner was extended by three months, until March, 25.
Over the recent days, Ihar Losik has had health issues, in particular, blood pressure spiking, RFE/RL reports. Today is the 37th day of his protest.