We begin the overview of repressions with a recently ended epic which lasted since 2010 – the cases of anarchists.
On 22 August anarchists Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok and Artsiom Prakapenka were released from jail. Among the absolved there were also Jauhen Vaskovich* and two other prisoners who do not have even an indirect relationship to anarchism.
But we remember that during all the time of their imprisonment, they and their families were constantly under pressure.
On 26 February Mikalai Dziadok was sentenced to one year of imprisonment under an absurd article 411 of the Criminal Code “willful disobedience to the orders of the prison administration” (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=5809&lang=en). Mikalai expressed his wish to be the last convict under this article. It allows prison authorities to keep a person there forever.
In the penal colony in Gorki, where Mikalai Dziadok had been transferred to in May, he was denied access to a lawyer. As before, he was often placed in solitary confinement (42 days only in May and June 2015), and was finally transferred to the cell-type room. On 20 May in protest against torture with low temperature the political prisoner inflicted himself cut wounds of arms and abdomen (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=6044%29&lang=en).
Ihar Alinevich had been in solitary confinement at least four times since the beginning of the year. His letters came with delays and interruptions, phone calls home were rare.
Artsiom Prakapenka in February wrote a petition for pardon. He got the answer only in April, and it was negative (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5940).
We are happy for the guys who were released, but it should be remembered that there are still political prisoners in Belarus so far. Moreover they are antifascists except the employees of the human rights organization “Platform” Andrei Bandarenka and Mikhail Zhemchuzhny (more about them below).
Next, we are going to consider rather numerous cases of administrative persecution for political reasons.
On 10 January Minsk club “Piraty” held a punk gig, that was foiled by the cops. The listeners were standing facing the wall for one and a half hours, while the cops were taking down their personal data, confiscating distro and poking around in the backpacks of some of the visitors (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=5460&lang=en). On 12 January the three arrested were convicted of “disorderly conduct” (they were supposedly “using bad words”) (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=5480&lang=en).
Police raids and arrests at the concerts are not the news. The news was that two of the detainees were tried to convict of “dissemination of extremist literature”. The judge returned the protocols to the cops for completion, and they haven’t done it yet. But the confiscated literature and musical recordings weren’t returned. It is still being checked on “extremism” (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6436).
After the solidarity actions had been held in support of the detainees (16 January //abc-belarus.org/?p=5509), the cops arrested and judges arrogantly sentenced 6 people to administrative arrests. They didn’t try to prove the connection of the arrested with the actions. The authorities accused them of disobeying the cops and the “hooliganism” (// abc-belarus.org/?p=5695).
Many visitors of the concert received an official “warnings about extremist activity” (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5532).
One of those who received such a warning challenged it successfully in court (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5792), because even the Belarusian laws doesn’t call an anarcho-punk “extremist”.
It is necessary also to mention here criminal cases related to the above events. After the action of solidarity of 16 January investigators threatened the detained to charges under the Article 339.2 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism of a group of persons). And that was because of the photo of a bare ass in front of the police department. It was believed to have blown up all the moral foundations of the Belarusian society. In May, it was reported about starting a criminal case under the Article 391 of the Criminal Code “Insulting a judge”.
On 29 January there were leaflets posted in the yard of the house where the judge Kamushkin lived. These leaflets reported that Kamushkin made unjust sentences and knowingly involved the innocent as defendants. Earlier Kamushkin had condemned few anarchists to 65 days of arrest in aggregate. Several people were questioned as witnesses in a criminal case (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5981). These cases haven’t moved yet further than questioning of witnesses. But no time to relax – they can take this up again at next arrests and make someone guilty (if necessary witnesses of prosecution will be found, you can be sure).
On 1 August the police broke in another outdoor punk gig near Minsk. The biggest part of the visitors was arrested and five of the arrested had to sign police protocols. Several detainees were badly beaten (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6260). On 3 August the judge returned the protocols for completion (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6268). Apparently, the cops did not attempt to “complete” these protocols. Some of the battered reported beating and applied to the Executive Committee. Minsk Region Executive Committee has been “examining” the application so far. Instruments and equipment, that had been confiscated during the gig, have not been returned yet (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6424).
On 11 October (the day of the presidential election) 5 anarchists were detained in Minsk (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6385). The police reports on them had been made under the article “hooliganism”, but the arrested were released the following day – court trials did not take place (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6392).
At the beginning of January 2015 9 antifascists’ homes were searched in Grodno. The searches were carried out on the basis of the decision of the administrative case for putting stickers “antifascist resistance”. At the same time the suspects were deprived of their computers and phones to be later summoned to the police station for a talk. After that 2 persons were drawn up under the Article 17.11 of the Administrative Code of Belarus, “the manufacture, distribution and (or) storage of extremist materials” and were fined 20 and 25 basic figures (//abc-belarus.org/?p= 5580).
One more antifascist was arrested in August in Grodno. The riot policemen stopped a young man on the street, inspected and found the same stickers in his bag. Then he was taken to the police station, where he spent almost a day and a night. The interrogation was conducted without a record, the detainee was photographed, fingerprinted and released (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6283).
In Brest on 23 February 5 people were fined for the action in memory of Russian and Czech antifascists Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova and Jan Kuchera (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5817). The very action took place on January 19 when 8 people were detained and taken to the police station (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5766).
Also in 2015 court trials in criminal cases against antifascists took place.
In late 2014 Vlad Lenko (an antifascist from Ivatsevichi) was arrested for a fight with neo-nazis. He was charged under the Articles 339.2 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism by group of persons) and 147.2 (causing grievous bodily harm). In September 2015 Vlad was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in a colony with a reinforced regime, and was assigned to the victim compensation in the amount of 20 million rubles (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=6357&lang=en).
In 2014 Dmitry Zvanko was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment for the case of the fight with neo-nazis. This case had been restored again and in 2015 and former witnesses in this case were held in Brest jail №6 and gained the status of suspects. They are Roman Bogdan and Dmitry Steshenko (the last had been serving his sentence for 2 years already for another fight with neo-nazis).
At mid-year closed court hearings started.
The antifascists were sentenced under the Articles 339.3 (hooliganism by group of persons) and 147.2 (grievous bodily harm) (// abc-belarus.org/?p=6374). In that same year the Court of Cassation softened the punishment and reclassified their actions with the second part of Article 339 not the third one.
As a result Roman Bogdan was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in a colony with a reinforced regime (Art. 339.2 and Art. 147.2) and to the victim compensation in the amount of approximately 64 million rubles. Dmitry Steshenko was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment in a colony with a reinforced regime (Art. 339.2) and to the payment to victims in the amount of 3.5 million rubles (//abc-belarus.org/?p=6491).
Apart from “legal” ways of pressing down the anarchist movement punitive authorities also used openly illegal ways.
Thus the cops used to call and ask a person to come to the police station for a “talk” or to write an “explanatory note” and so on. (//abc-belarus.org/?p=5969). We have written many times before and we will write in the future, that such an invitation doesn’t worth taking it.
We are also aware of several cases of cops beating activists in detention or in offices. We believe that such cases must be voiced, it must be indicated where, when and (if known) who beat people. We also believe that it is necessary to take photos of beating and try to initiate criminal proceedings against the aggressors (apply). We have no faith in the law, in the Executive Committee or the courts, but even quietly “closed”application will cost the cops their nerves during inspections; probably one of them won’t be promoted, etc. We hope that in case of a massive and organized civil resistance to the police lawlessness the police will no longer be so impudent and violence will decrease. We also recognize the right of victims of the police violence for revenge (but we haven’t heard of such cases for now).
Thus, despite several antifascists were released in 2015 the level of police repressions against anarchists and antifascists haven’t dropped yet. This means that the anarchist and anti-fascist movements are perceived as a threat to the existing order. With the deteriorating economic situation in the country there should be expected an increase in repressions against all the discontented, including anarchists. Therefore, comrades, we urge you to know your rights, use special software for information protection on the Internet and take care of your physical safety.
* To the question about the impossibility of supporting groups that unite anti-authoritarian ideas and nationalism (http://abc-belarus.org/?p=4901&lang=en).
Translated by Nastya Kassetka