Prominent Belarusian basketball player gets 15-day jail term over taking part in protests

Alena Leuchanka.

On September 30, Belarusian basketball player Alena Leuchanka, a member of the independent sportspeople’s movement, was detained at Minsk Airport. The athlete who was about to leave the country for medical treatment was taken to Leninski district police department.

The woman informed her attorney Mikhail Kirylyuk that she was charged with violation the rules of holding mass events (Art. 23.34-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences). She was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest and transferred to the notorious detention centre in Akrestsin Street.

Mikhail Kirylyuk has been barred from seeing his client; a police officer who refused to introduce himself said such visits were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Alena was prepared, but no one thought she would get the maximum term. I was not allowed to attend either the police department or [the prison in] Akrestsin, I was not allowed to take pictures of the case materials. In court, I made a statement that throwing obstacles in my defending the client provided ground for cancelling her administrative liability. But the court has ordered otherwise,” he said.

As Alena did not admit any fault, they are going to appeal against the sentence, the defense lawyer stressed.

Alena Leuchanka has been playing for the Belarusian national basketball team since 2001. She repeatedly took part in Sunday protest marches and openly spoke out against police violence in Belarus.