Update on the situation with repressions in Belarus in June 2021

It’s been almost 11 months since the beginning of the protests in Belarus caused by falsified elections. A lot of our comrades have been put behind bars, many had to flee the country, public activity is hampered not only for anarchists, but for all dissident associations and groups. Below you will see a short update on the situation with the repressions in Belarus with a focus on anarchists and antifascists. We will try to release these updates at the end of each month.

Repression against anarchists and antifascists

Aliaksandr Frantskevich was accused of another crime – inciting hatred or enmity. This is the fifth article of the criminal code he is charged with. Previous charges include organising, participating and training others for mass riots and participation in an international criminal organisation.

*ABC-Belarus provides limited critical support to Frantskevich. See more here

Antifascists Vladislav Zenevich and Igor Bancer have been moved to an open-type correctional facility to serve their sentence. See their new addresses on their personal pages.

Antifascist Andrei Kasimirov who is kept in a detention facility in Moscow awaiting extradition was recognised as a political prisoner in Russia. His extradition decision is being appealed.

The Telegram channel and group or Pramen media collective are now officially extremist. A few years ago their website www.pramen.io and other social media were blocked in Belarus, but people can access them via VPN or Tor. They recently translated a brochure with an analysis of protest in 2020.

Four people were detained for 10 days in Grodno and brought to Minsk on suspicion of their participation in an international anarchist criminal organisation. They were later released with travel restrictions.

Four Minsk antifascists were convicted on July 2. They were accused of participating in mass riots and attacking plain-clothed police.

Three of them reported that violence and torture was used on them to extort confessions. Vitaly Shishlov and Denis Boltut got 6 years or imprisonment, Timur Pipiya – 6 years and 3 months, Tamaz Pipiya – 5 years of prison.

The trial of anarchist blogger Mikola Dziadok started on June 29. He is accused of gross violation of public order, calls to the change of the regime via internet and possession of Molotov cocktails (he claims they were planted during the search). In a hearing, Mikola gave a detailed account of the torture and violence that were used on him during detention to extort passwords to encrypted devices.

Activists that moved to Poland in fear of repression reported that local political police visited them and warned that the Belarusian KGB shared their personal information with Polish right-wingers. The visitors offered “protection” and asked to report of any activity of anarchists and antifascists in Poland. The activists refused and made the information public.

ABC-Belarus supports anarchists and antifascists who suffer from the persecution. You can donate using transfer details on this page https://abc-belarus.org/?page_id=8661&lang=en

Repression in general

Our list of incarcerated and persecuted protesters amounts to 900 people. International reaction to Lukashenko hijacking a Ryanair airplane to arrest a wanted journalist and his partner followed in the form of sanctions and flight ban to an from Belarus. For the moment, flying out of the country is next to impossible. Due to coronavirus restrictions, Belarusians are not allowed to leave the country by land (with the exception of a number of reasons like work, study, illness, etc.). Now good transport connections are open only with Russia.

Torture is reported to be used in temporary detention centres where administratively arrested are held – people don’t receive any sheets or mattresses, are deprived of sleep and poisoned with chlorine that is put on the floor. They don’t receive any food parcels from the outside.

People who are sent to serve their sentence report bad treatment and punishments. Lawyers can’t get to see their clients for weeks, relatives are worried. When convicts try to appeal, their sentences sometime become harsher.

At the same time, after the sanctions were imposed, Lukashenko started playing the same game as usual, offering some political prisoners to write a petition for pardon. Raman Pratasevish and Sofia Sapega whose arrest caused the fuss were transferred to house arrest, but the KGB agents stay with them in a rented flat.

New amendments to the Criminal Code were passed that changed the rules of counting days in pre-trial detention in the prison term. Now one day in a pre-trial detention counts as 1.5 days of imprisonment in a penitentiary and 2 days in an open-type correctional facility.

125 people were convicted on political charges in June alone.

What happens with the protest?

In general, most people are now afraid to go on street protests, so mostly the activity is limited to smaller symbolic actions in the neighbourhoods. At the same time, a lot of work is dedicated to international pressure on the regime, like cancelling sports events, banning Belarus from the Eurovision, putting pressure on businesses to not cooperate with the regime. Special teams are working on collaboration with state workers from different institutions who desire change, or trying to unite all workers and have them prepared for a national strike.

The opposition announced a Plan of Victory that involves people who don’t support the regime to register as protesters ready to act and provide the details about their occupation, etc. The initiators hope to get a pool of people from all spheres of life to later form affinity-groups from them based on common workplaces or skills.

ABC-Belarus supports anarchists and antifascists who suffer from the persecution. You can donate using transfer details on this page https://abc-belarus.org/?page_id=8661&lang=en

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