An overview of repressions against anarchists and antifascists in Belarus in 2021

ABC-Belarus countered unprecedented quantity of repressions in 2021. We cannot say that it was unexpected. We expected exactly this after 2020 protests. But such predictability doesnʼt make the burden of anti-repression activism easier.


The difference with previous waves of repression is that the massive repressions against anarchists and antifascists are happening simultaneously with even more massive attack of the state on activists of oppositional political parties and movements, activists of NGOs and even on ʻordinary citizensʼ who joined political activity in 2020 or simply wrote one or two commentaries online.


Criminal prosecution

In the past year, it became extremely hard for everyone in Belarus (not just for anarchists) to get any meaningful information about politically motivated criminal cases. In majority of cases, lawyers are bound by a written undertaking not to speak about details of a case. It became hard to get into a courtroom; moreover, people going to attend a politically motivated trial risk to end up under arrest and to undergo beatings or other tortures. The public was banned from attending the most resonant trials.
The majority of criminal proceedings started back in 2020, and in 2021 trials were staged and sentences announced, or the cases were becoming bigger as new defendants or new accusations against defendants already present were added.

On 19 February 2021 an anarchist Ivan Krasovsky was sentenced by Saviecki district court of Minsk (judge Marina Fiodorova) to 3 years of an open prison (so called ʻchemistryʼ) for “participation in mass disorders” (article 293 part 2 of the Criminal Code). Initially he was detained on 12 August 2020 at the main railroad station in Minsk. He ended up in a hospital in the outcome of brutal beatings performed by GUBOPiK and OMON special police units. His wounds were so grave that he had to spend two weeks in a wheelchair. Ivan submitted an official statement on tortures to the Investigative Committee, but he himself was prosecuted, not criminal cops. On 24 September 2020 he was detained again on criminal charges. After the sentencing, Ivan was temporarily released home. He decided not to wait for a warrant to go to an open prison and left Belarus.

Vladislav Zenevich, an antifascist from Minsk, was detained on 30 November 2020 on charges of a “gross violation of the public order” (art. 342). He had been detained earlier during 1 November demonstration, then beaten and fined. His apartment was searched. On 23 February 2021 he was convicted (judge Marina Zapasnik) to 3 years of an open prison. After a period of a temporary release, on 3 June 2021 he was sent to the open type penitentiary nr. 24 in Hrodna.

An antifascist and musician from Hrodna Igor Bancer was detained on 20 October 2020 on charges of hooliganism (art. 339 part 1) for a performance in front of a police car (he had teased cops dancing in front of them in strings). On 19 March 2021 judge Natalia Kozel convicted Igor to one and a half year of an open prison. From 5 to 19 March Igor was on a dry(!) hunger strike, and it seems thatʼs why he received relatively “soft” sentence. From 17 June he served his sentence, and almost half of his term he spent in an isolation punishment cell. Igor also spent part of the term in a pre-trial detention facility, as administration of an open prison was trying (in vain) to transfer him by a court decision to a (closed) prison to serve the rest of his term. On 17 December 2021 Igor was released after serving full term.

On 25 September 2020 Denis Boltuts and Timur Pipiya, and on 26 September Vitaliy Shishlov and Tamaz Pipiya were detained. All four are antifascists and used to be fans of MTZ-RIPO/Partizan football club.
Denis Boltuts, Vitaliy Shishlov and Timur Pipiya were accused of participation in mass disorders (art. 293 part 2 of the Criminal Code), organisation and preparation of, or active participation in a gross violation of the public order (art. 342 part 1), violence or a threat of violence against a policeman (art. 364). Tamaz Pipiya was accused of participation in mass disorders (art 293 part 2).
According to the version of a prosecution, all four participated in the “mass disorders” at the night of 10 August 2020 next to Puškinskaja metro station in Minsk. They allegedly were present at the crossroads of Puškina prospect and Prytyckaha street from 21:20 to 23:10. The prosecution was unable to give any examples of “pogroms”, “violence against persons” and “armed resistance to representatives of authorities on their duty to safeguard the public order” apart from one instance when Vitaliy Shishlov allegedly had thrown an object into the direction of either police vehicles, or cops themselves.
In the evening and at the night of 23 September 2020 Denis Boltuts, Vitaliy Shishlov and Timur Pipiya allegedly took active participation in the “group actions grossly violating the public order” (that night, big protests against Lukashenkaʼs inauguration took place in Minsk). According to the prosecutor, from 18:10 to 20:40 they were present close to Niamiha street where they clapped their hands and shouted slogans.
From 20:40 on 23 September to 1:30 [am] on 24 September they were allegedly at the crossroads of Pliachanava street and Rakasoŭskaha prospect at the Sierabranka district of Minsk, where they got to the road and blocked the traffic.
According to the prosecution, between 22:00 and 22:15 Timur Pipiya, Boltuts, Shishlov and other participants of the protest came close to a car standing near the crossroads. In the car, cops from Leninski district police department of Minsk, Zelenevskiy and Karabanov (probably, false surnames), were sitting; they were undercover (not dressed in uniforms), but were on duty. Pipiya and Boltuts “demonstrated a threat of violence” by their bodies, and Shishlov pulverized a pepper spray into the car. Cops drove away.
Apart from it, on 27 March 2020 Timur Pipiya had been convicted to public works for evasion of ailments in relation to his child (art. 174), but then repeatedly evaded public works in question. The prosecution qualified it as “evasion of punishment in the form of public works” (art. 419).
On 7 May 2021 the trial of Denis Boltuts, Vitaliy Shishlov, Timur Pipiya and Tamaz Pipiya started in the court of Maskoŭski district of Minsk.
During the proceedings, Denis Boltuts pleaded not guilty. Vitaliy Shishlov pleaded partly guilty in committing deeds qualified according to articles 342 p. 1 and 364, but not guilty in deeds qualified according to art. 293 p. 2. Timur Pipiya pleaded guilty in art. 342 p. 1 and 419, but not guilty in art. 293 p. 2 and 364. Tamaz Pipiya pleaded not guilty.
During the trial, Vitaliy Shishlov revealed how the video with his “confessions” had been recorded under torture. On 26 September 2020 he was detained at his acquaintanceʼs summerhouse. Around 2 pm 8 masked and armed men stormed the house. They ordered to kneel and to keep hands behind a head, handcuffed him and pulverized pepper spray into his face. He was beaten indoors, then taken outdoors where his head was put into a barrel filled with water. Beatings continued in a police van, the van drove and stopped in a forest. In a forest, cops continued to beat Vitaliy and then demanded to “confess” in his “crimes” to a video camera, the ready text was provided. If something went wrong, he was beaten again and a new take was filmed.
Timur Pipiya explained contradictions between statements made in the court and during the preliminary investigation (interrogation in GUBOPiK special police station without a lawyer on the day of detention) by tortures. After the capture, he was beaten in a police van by hands and electric shock for two hours, and policemen told him which statement to make during interrogation. He was also told that if he declines to provide a statement demanded, for the next several hours tortures would continue. During an operative interrogation on 6 January 2021 psychological pressure was used: the interrogator scared Timur with potential imprisonment of his sister.
Tamaz Pipiya claimed in the court that after the detention he had been “driven in places unknown [for seven hours], after which he made statement demanded from him” by GUBOPiK. He confessed that he had made false statements against other people, and that he was ashamed of it. After Tamaz had been granted access to lawyer, he refrained from any statements.
On 2 July 2021 judge Svetlana Bondarenko sentenced the four to exactly those terms which the prosecutor Roman Biziuk demanded: Denis Boltuts and Vitaliy Shishlov — 6 years of imprisonment each; Timur Pipiya — 6 years, 3 months and 2 days of imprisonment; Tamaz Pipiya — 5 years of imprisonment.
At the end of September, the appeal was considered. For three defendants terms were left unchanged, but in the case of Timur Pipiya art. 419 (evasion of punishment) was removed from the sentence and the term shortened by one months: he was convicted to 6 years, 2 months and 2 days of imprisonment.

Mikola Dziadok, Belarusian anarchist and blogger, was detained on 11 November 2020. Police tortured him in order to get access to his encrypted computer and to his accounts in social networks. From June 2020 Mikola was hiding from police which tried to detain him preemptively. He kept a blog, in which he wrote about protests in Belarus.
The trial started on 29 June 2021. According to the prosecution (prosecutor Anton Tyumencev), Mikola participated in the protest on 23 August 2020 in Minsk, where he “showed obvious insubordination to the lawful demands” of police, got to the road, blocked the traffic, loudly clapped his hands and shouted slogans. The prosecution also concluded that for several years Dziadok had been administering “a radical telegram channel”, through which, aiming at calls to actions against the national security of Belarus, he distributed materials “directed at destabilisation of situation in the country, artificial raising of tenseness and confrontation in the society, dissemination of an ideology of extremism.” During the search of Mikolaʼs rented apartment, police planted no less than three “glass bottles with combustible liquid.” According to the prosecution, the anarchist did not finish the preparation of Molotov cocktails, as nothing inflammable was added into the bottles.
Mikola pleaded not guilty. During the trials, he testified about details of tortures used against him on the night of his detention. On 6 July judge Anastasiya Popko ruled on the necessity of the forensic psycho-linguistic expertise of approximately 20 posts from the telegram channel Мikоlа. A break was declared, and the trial resumed only in November. On 10 November judge Popko convicted Mikola to 5 years of imprisonment, as demanded by the prosecutor. Articles of the Criminal Code used were: calls for actions against the national security (art. 361 part 3), participation in a gross violation of the public order (art. 342 part 1), illegal actions in relation to combustible materials (art. 295-3 part 1). Each day of pre-trial detention will be calculated as one and a half day in a penal colony. Mikolaʼs laptop was confiscated as a “tool of the crime.”

On 28 October 2020 four anarchists were detained in Bahucičy village of Jelsk district (close to Ukrainian border) and in the forest near the village: Dzmitry Dubousky, Siarhei Ramanau, Ihar Alinevich and Dzmitry Rezanovich. The group received informal folk name “anarcho-partisans”. All four are ʻrecidivistsʼ. Ihar Alinevich had been kidnapped by FSB (Russian secret service) in 2010 in Moscow and smuggled into Belarus, where in 2011 he was convicted for several anarchist direct actions (the most loud actions were an arson of a car belonging to Russian embassy in Minsk in solidarity with defenders of Khimki forest near Moscow, and the destruction of an ATM of Belarusbank – the biggest state bank of the country) to 8 years of imprisonment on articles 218 part 3 (willful destruction of property) and 339 part 2 (group hooliganism). Human rights defenders recognised him as a political prisoner, and in 2015 he was released together with other political prisoners of Belarus. Siarhei Ramanau had been convicted in 2014 for the transporting of explosives to 5 years of imprisonment, and served full sentence. Dzmitry Rezanovich was detained on 16 March 2014 in Kursk (Russia) on a suspicion in “performing an act of sabotage on Russian territory.” On 3 July 2014 he was convicted for crossing the state border without valid documents (art. 332 part 1 of Russian Criminal Code): he had crossed Ukrainian-Russian border using his brotherʼs passport. Rezanovich was deported from Russia to Belarus (on 25 July 2014) and fined. Only Dubousky had no previous criminal convictions, but from 2010 he had been on the run. He was wanted in relation to several anarchist attacks on symbols of power and capital in Belarus (the most notorious – burned car of the Russian embassy in Minsk). In November 2010 in Moscow Dubousky managed to escape when FSB agents were going to detain him together with Alinevich. For 10 years Dzmitry was hiding in Russia and Ukraine, published his diaries, participated in the anarchist movement.
All four detainees had been tortured, but details of tortures were revealed only in the end of 2021, during the trial and immediately after it. According to Ramanauʼs mother, he told her that after detention he had been beaten, pepper spray had been used against him, and that he had been forced to inflict self-harm in order to stop tortures (Ramanauʼs account was confirmed by his co-defendants). Ramanau and Rezanovich declined to give any testimony, even in spite of tortures. Alinevich gave evidence against himself; in his testimony, he provided detailed information about his political views. It was immediately shown to Belarusian state media, and thanks to that fact the wider public learned about the group and detention of its participants. Dubousky was unable to stand the tortures and gave evidence against all four; it was also shown by official propaganda. Dubousky also explained his political views. During the trial, he claimed that his initial testimony had been given under torture, and demanded attention to the fact that at the moment of entrance to KGB jail (couple of days after detention) prison personnel had made a record that all four defendants had had injuries.
On 12 February 2021 the KGB included 17 persons into “The list of organisations and persons, related to terrorist activities.” Ihar Alinevich, Dzmitry Dubousky, Dzmitry Rezanovich and Siarhei Ramanau were among those 17. It became impossible to transfer money to a prison account of any of them; previously they had been able to buy additional food or order books with this money.
On 6 October 2021 the Office of the Prosecutor General published some details about the case (before that, there was very little information available publicly). According to the prosecution, on 10 October 2020 Alinevich and Dubousky crossed Belarusian border from Ukrainian side. On 21 October 2020 Alinevich, Dubousky, Ramanau and Rezanovich set on fire four cars at the parking of the Prosecutorʼs Office of the Salihorsk district, as well as a room of a building belonging to Salihorsk office of the State Forensic Expertise Committee. On 28 October 2020 they allegedly set on fire the building of a road police in Mazyr. The group possessed two pistols, one sawn-off gun, hand grenade and cartridges. All four were accused in the illegal manipulations with arms (art. 295 parts 2, 3 and 4) and acts of terrorism (art. 289 part 2); terrorism accusations could have resulted in up to 20 years of imprisonment.
On 26 October Siarhei Ramanau was transferred to the detention unit nr. 3 (in Homiel). On 29 October the court of Čyhunačny (Railroad) district of Homiel (judge Aleksej Khlyshchenkov) considered the criminal case against Siarhei. The anarchist was accused in defying the measures of preventive surveillance (article 421 of the Criminal Code). He had been placed under preventive surveillance after serving his first prison term (5 years) for illegal possession of explosives. Alleged misconduct was minor, e.g. visiting a bar where alcohol was served (but not drinking any alcohol there) or being present at the staircase of his apartment house at night (while it was strictly forbidden to leave the apartment at nighttime). The sentence was declared on 1 November: 1 year of the penal colony (maximum possible for such kind of ‘crime’). More details: https://abc-belarus.org/?p=14417&lang=en

On 15 November a trial of anarcho-partisans started in Minsk region court (judge Valeriy Tulejka, prosecutor Igor Kabushev). As it was expected, the trial was declared closed to a public by a judge, allegedly in order to defend interests of ‘victims’ (cops whose cars were burnt down).
On 26 November all four were transferred from KGB (secret service) jail to SIZO-1 jail (both in Minsk).
Three of defendants often refused to participate in this mockery of justice; they were repeatedly sent away from the courtroom after not showing enough deference to the judge. Only Dzmitry Dubouski remained in the courtroom throughout whole trial, as he tried to attract attention to the methods of extraction of his initial statements (tortures).
On 22 December, the sentence was announced for the group. The pronouncement of the sentence was made public. Sentences: Siarhei Ramanau – 20 years, Ihar Alinevich – 20 years, Dzmitry Rezanovich – 19 years, Dzmitry Dubousky – 18 years. So far, these sentences are the longest in the history of political repression in the country since independence in 1991.
The defendants are also expected to pay 21,000 Belarusian roubles as ʻcompensation of moral harmʼ to cops whose cars were burnt and more than 18,000 Belarusian roubles as compensation of material damages. On top of it, they have to pay more than 11,500 Belarusian roubles to ʻcover judicial expences and other expences related to proceedingsʼ (the exchange rate of Belarusian rouble to Euro is approximately 3:1).
After the sentence had been announced, the convicts were given short-term meetings with relatives. Dzmitry Dubousky, during a meeting with his sister, told her about tortures and asked to make this information public. Other three convicts (during their meeting with relatives) confirmed accuracy of his account.

Antifascist Andrei Kazimirau was detained by undercover policemen on 13 August 2020 in a shop in Brest when he was discussing current political events with a friend in a queue. The friend ran away, but Kazimirau was taken to a police station where he was held until 11 pm on 14 August. He went through beatings, he was refused medical help when a wound on his leg reopened, he was interrogated without an access to lawyer, but facing threats from police. Before that, Kazimirau had participated in a peaceful protest action brutally attacked by police and military, where he had been wounded by a rubber bullet.
At the end of August 2020, Andrei was summoned to the Brest office of the Investigative Committee and was questioned about his participation in 10 August protest (art. 293 of the Criminal Code). There he gave a written undertaking not to leave the place and was let go.
On 7 September 2020 Andrei left Belarus. On 5 November 2020 the Investigative Committee passed a resolution to change Kazimirauʼs status to that of an accused, and he was declared wanted. It is unclear, on what exactly grounds charges are based. Human rights defenders who were able to consult documents of Kazimirauʼs case only found there that Kazimirau allegedly “had participated in mass disorders accompanied by violence against persons, pogroms and destruction of property.”
On 14 January 2021 Andrei was detained in Moscow where he lived and worked since September 2020. On 15 January the court ruled that Andrei had to be taken into custody during the extradiction procedures.
On 28 February Andrei applied for a temporary refugee status in Russia, but received a refusal. His lawyer lodged complaints in several instances. Simultaneously, Kazimirau and his lawyer submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), aspiring for the use of paragraph 39 of the courtʼs regulations which is used to ban extradition when there is a real danger to life.
In April Human Rights Centre Memorial (Moscow) recognised Andrei as a political prisoner: https://memohrc.org/en/news_old/andrei-kazimirau-belarusian-citizen-facing-deportation-russia-participating-anti-lukashenka .
In July ECtHR banned to extradict Kazimirau before his case will be considered in essence, because in Belarus he might face cruel treatment and tortures. On 29 July a court in Moscow made a decision to extradict Kazimirau on the request of Belarusian side, but later in accordance with the ECtHR decision the extradiction was suspended until 15 January 2022. All this time until the end of 2021 Kazimirau continued to stay under arrest in Moscow.

On 12 August 2020 GUBOPiK political police detained in Minsk Aliaksandr Frantskevich and Akikhiro Gaevsky-Khanada.
Aliaksandr Frantskevich initially was charged with the “organisation of mass disorders” (art. 293 part 1 of the Criminal Code), later charges multiplied. There were news arriving that after detention Aliaksandr had been tortured (e.g. by electric shock) in order to extract statements against himself and others. ABC-Belarus collective supports Aliaksandr Frantskevich as a political prisoner, but criticises at the same time his views and actions. One can read our statement on this issue here: https://abc-belarus.org/?p=13086&lang=en.
Akikhiro Gaevsky-Khanada is an activist of an anarchist movement. Initially he was charged with “participation in mass disorders” (art. 293 part 2). He had been beaten after detention.
On 17 September 2020 Marfa Rabkova, a coordinator of a volunteer service of the Viasna Human Rights Centre, was detained in Minsk. In the past, Marfa used to be an anarchist. Initially she was charged with “training or other preparation of persons for participation in mass disorders, or financing of such activities” (art. 293 part 3).
On 2 October 2020 Andrei Chepyuk, an anarchist and a volunteer of the Viasna Human Rights Centre was detained in Minsk by GUBOPiK political police. On 9 October he was charged with “participation in mass disorders” (art. 293 part 2).
The case of the “international criminal organisation” was brought against Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Andrei Chepyuk, Akikhiro Gaevsky-Khanada and Marfa Rabkova in February 2021. They faced new charges: “participation in a criminal organisation” (art. 285). The organisation in question is the Revolutionary Action, which was founded in 2005 as a Belarusian branch of the Autonomous Action, predominanly Russian anarchist organisation (now defunct). Later RA separated from AA. Investigation and police claim that the organisation had branches in various cities and countries and was sponsored by some informal (anarchist) funds. In the beginning of March 2021 seven more people were detained in Brest, fifteen more suspects had left Belarus, according to police.
On 2 March Nikita Dranets, Aleksandr Kozlyanko, Andrei Marach, Pavel Shpetny and Danila Chul were detained in Brest. On 5 March Aleksei Golovko was detained. Kozlyanko is an anarchist, Marach is an antifscist, political views of others are not known. One more suspect had been detained, but later released. To our best knowledge, Chul is cooperating with the investigation, for this reason ABC-Belarus does not support him.
On 9 June 2021 apartments of several antifascists and anarchists were searched in Hrodna, including apartments of Maksim Yahneshka, Aleksandr Masʼ and Artur Krishtapovich. Aleksandr and Artur were detained under suspicion in “participation in a criminal organisation” (art. 285). There was an information that there were at least four detainees. Later they were released.
It is interesting to note that the investigation cannot settle on the issue which exactly kind of the organisation Revolutionaty Action is – “criminal” or “extremist”. In November 2021 the organisation was officially declared an “extremist formation.” Some defendants are accused of participation in a “criminal organisation”, others – of participation in an “extremist formation”, still others – in both of these “crimes.”
Charges against ten defendants were multiplying and multiplying. According to official information, the case contains 160 volumes. Below we give information about charges. This information may be incomplete, as because of written undertakings for non-disclosure lawyers cannot speak about details of the case even to relatives, and letters of the accused are censored.
Marfa Rabkova faces the following charges: organisation of mass disorders (art. 293 part 1 of the Criminal Code), participation in mass disorders (art. 293 part 2), training or other preparation of persons for participation in mass disorders, or financing of such activities (art. 293 part 3), organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), calls for actions aimed to harm the national security (art. 361), intentional destruction of or damage to a property performed in a way dangerous to the general public (art. 218), hooliganism in a group (art. 339 part 2), especially malicious hooliganism (art. 339 part 3), defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341), creation of an extremist formation or participation in it (art. 361-1), kindling of hatred or enmity (art. 130), illegal actions in relation to combustible materials (art. 295-3), creation of a criminal organisation or management of it (art. 285 part 1).
Aliaksandr Frantskevich faces the following charges: organisation of mass disorders (art. 293 part 1), participation in mass disorders (art. 293 part 2), organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), calls for actions aimed to harm the national security (art. 361), intentional destruction of or damage to a property performed in a way dangerous to the general public (art. 218), hooliganism in a group (art. 339 part 2), especially malicious hooliganism (art. 339 part 3), defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341), creation of an extremist formation or participation in it (art. 361-1), creation of a criminal organisation or management of it (art. 285 part 1), participation in a criminal organisation in any other form (art. 285 part 2), kindling of hatred or enmity (art. 130), illegal actions in relation to combustible materials (art. 295-3).
Akikhiro Gaevsky-Khanada faces the following charges: organisation of mass disorders (art. 293 part 1), participation in mass disorders (art. 293 part 2), organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), calls for actions aimed to harm the national security (art. 361), hooliganism in a group (art. 339 part 2), defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341), creation of an extremist formation or participation in it (art. 361-1), kindling of hatred or enmity (art. 130), creation of a criminal organisation or management of it (art. 285 part 1).
Aleksei Golovko faces the following charges: organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341), creation of an extremist formation or participation in it (art. 361-1), creation of a criminal organisation or management of it (art. 285 part 1).
Andrei Chepyuk faces the charges of participation in mass disorders (art. 293 part 2), and of defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341).
Aleksandr Kozlyanko faces the charges of organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), and of participation in a criminal organisation in any other form (art. 285 part 2).
Andrei Marach faces the charges of organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), and of defilement of buildings and damage to property (art. 341).
Pavel Shpetny faces the charges of organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), and of hooliganism in a group (art. 339 part 2).
Danila Chul faces the charges of organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342), and of participation in a criminal organisation in any other form (art. 285 part 2).
Nikita Dranets is charged with organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating the public order, or active participation in them (art. 342).
According to the information of the Revolutionary Action, the following episodes appear in the case (the list is not exhaustive): lightbulbs with paint thrown onto road police advertisement billboards and onto the building of the Belarusian state television in 2016; a smoke bomb thrown into the building of GUBOP political police in Brest in 2016; a demonstration against the tax on unemployed in Brest on 5 March 2017; an arson (with Molotov cocktails) of a tax collection office in Homiel in 2017 (in the protest against the tax on unemployed), an arson of a billboard advertising the department of a forced execution of punishment in Ivacevičy in 2017; a symbolic blockade of M1 highway close to Brest in 2018 (to protest environmentally unfriendly car accumulator factory under construction near Brest), graffiti against the European Games in Minsk in 2019 and 1 May graffiti in Brest in 2020.
All the defendants are in custody in SIZO-1 in Minsk.
The legal action against those who left the country (Dmitry Levchuk, Artur Kondratovich, Roman Khalilov, Jauhien Zhurauski, and persons unknown) constitutes a separate case.

On 31 May 2021 it became known that a criminal case was opened against antifascist Konstantin Semionov. When detained earlier on 16 May (see section on administrative arrests below), Semionov was wearing a T-shirt with an inscription “Dictatorʼs place is in the hell”, which police considered an insult of the president of the republic (art. 368 part 1 of the Criminal Code). Konstantin gave a written undertaking not to leave his place of residence and let go home. Later the case was closed, as even Belarusian investigation considered that such slogan does not constitute a crime.

At the end of July and the beginning of August 2021 a wave of house raids and detentions of anarchists (or of those whom political police perceives as anarchists) took place in Belarus. Relatives of anarchists also became victims of house raids. Four persons were detained in that period and charged with organisation or participation in a gross violation of the public order (art. 342 of the Criminal Code): three anarchists (Evgeny Rubashko, Aleksandr Belov, Artem Solovey) and one more man whose political views are unclear. All four face these charges because they had participated in big marches in Minsk in August and Autumn 2020. After an anarchist group Pramen had been declared an “extremist formation” on 12 November 2021, a charge of participation in “extremist formation” (art. 361-1) was added.
Evgeny Rubashko is an anarchist from Minsk, he was detained on 29 July 2021. During the first day of detention Evgeny was beaten, suffocated by a plastic bag, cops also poured an alcohol-containing liquid into his throat. Under torture he gave cops passwords to his devices. In 2020 Evgeny had been detained during a demostration and had served an administrative arrest.
Aleksandr Belov is an anarchist from Minsk, he was detained on 29 July 2021. In 2020 Aleksandr had been detained during a demostration and had served an administrative arrest.
Artem D. Solovey is an anarchist from Minsk. He was detained on 4 August 2021 and first received an administrative arrest 15 days long for allegedly resisting arrest. After that he was not released, but a criminal case was opened. Earlier Artem had been detained several times at marches and preventively before Freedom Day (25 March) 2021.

In late July 2021 Uladzislau Bokhanʼs apartment was searched; the search warrant contained articles 293 (mass disorders) and 342 (gross violation of the public order). Uladzislau was detained and taken to GUBOPiK political police for questioning. The questions touched upon events of August and September 2020 (various demonstrations) and anarchists. Later he was taken to a district police station where, threatened with detention of his wife, Bokhan signed a fake protocol on insubordination to police and was let go home to wait for an administrative trial. In fear for his and his familyʼs safety, Bokhan left the country.

On 1 October 2021 it became known that legal action was taken against anarchists Jauhien Zhurauski and Roman Khalilov. They are suspected in the kindling of social hatred (art. 130) for their participation in a picket next to the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw after the murder of Andrej Zeltser in Minsk by KGB officers. Both anarchists live in Poland.

In late November, a new criminal case was opened against a political prisoner Mikita Yemelyanau for “malicious insubordination to demands of penitentiary’s administration” (art. 411 of the Criminal Code). On 24 December, the final indictment was brought against Mikita. This case can lead to additional two years of sentence. Mikita does not testify in this case. During his time in prison, more than 60 reports on his ‘violations of the regime’ were compiled. Mikita insists that he was forced to ‘violate the regime’ in order to protest constant violation of his basic rights.
Mikita is an anarchist from Minsk. He was detained on 20 October 2019 together with Ivan Komar on a suspicion in an attempt to set on fire SIZO-1 jail in Minsk. Charges: illegal actions with combustible materials (art. 295-3), and intentional destruction of or damage to national cultural heritage (art. 344; the prison building is on the national heritage list). Later the charges were also brought for another unsuccessful attack on the same jail (again, articles 295-3 and 344), as well as for throwing paint at the Minsk city court (art. 341 — defilement of buildings and damage to property). All actions were taken in solidarity with Dzmitry Palijenka who was at the time incarcerated in this jail and tried by this court.
On 12 February 2020 Mikita was sentenced by the court of the Soviet district of Minsk to 7 years of imprisonment. On 27 March 2020 Minsk city court reduced the sentence to 4 years. 9 June 2020 Mikita was transferred from penal colony to prison, as he declined to sign written undertaking to behave well.

Almost all political prisoners in Belarus (including anarchists and antifascists) face pressure of prison administration in the facilities where they are held. The administration demands them to write appeals for pardon, they are placed into isolation punishment cells for invented breaches of order, their correspondence is blocked, they are deprived of parcels and phone calls to relatives, their food rations are diminished, various other ways to humiliate are used against them.

Prosecution via administrative law

On 17 January 2021 an antifascist and an ambulance medical assistant Anastasiya Kalashnikova was detained in Minsk. On 18 January she received a fine of 30 ʻbasic unitsʼ (approximately 300 euro).

On 23 January 2021 Food not Bombs activists (no less than 9 persons) and several homeless people were detained during the distribution of food in Minsk. Almost all activists were sentenced to 15 days of arrest, some — to a fine equivalent to 440 euro. In early January 2022 Food not Bombs of Minsk declared that it ceases to exist in a direct outcome of the state repression.

On 24 March 2021 (one day before the Freedom Day demonstration) GUBOPiK political police supported by OMON riot police broke into the apartment of four anarchists (Artyom Markin, Artem Solovey, Andrey Kh., Artem S.). Their devices, literature and personal money were seized. Each of them received 15 days of arrest for alleged insubordination to cops.

In early April 2021 police took intense interest in local punks scene in Baranavičy. Pavel Pipko was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for alleged participation in protests. Several persons were questioned with the use of polygraph. One garage was searched. Apartments of anarchists, including apartments of those who left Belarus, were visited by police.

On 16 May, 22 cyclists were going to have an amateur race Tour de Tsna on the outskirts of Minsk, but riot police arrived and detained people present. 18 cyclists received administrative arrests, others were released. An antifascist Konstantin Semionov was among the detainees, he was sentenced to 15 days of arrest.

On 3 July (Lukashenkaʼs independence day, a national holiday) cops detained in Stolin Pavel Rabeshko, a citizen of Ukraine. His apartment was searched, he was beaten. He was released at late night and left Belarus. He informed that in order to get out he had given “a consent to cooperate, or to give evidence against some administrators of some [telegram] channels (unknown to me). I signed the paper and decided to leave Stolin.”

In late July — early August 2021 police organised raids against anarchists and those whom police perceives as anarchists. Apart from those who became defendant in criminal cases, several more persons were involved in administrative proceedings. On 29 July Evgeny Rubashkoʼs flatmate was detained and sentenced to 14 days of arrest for alleged insubordination to cops. Later the flatmate was deported from Belarus, as he does not have Belarusian citizenship.

In the end of July the leftovers of Listovka printing cooperative (a business run by anarchists) were wrecked by police. All printing machines were confiscated, 4 house raids were performed. A friend of the cooperative who had stored the machines was arrested for 5 days. Several days later police distributed a press release on Listovka in which the cooperative was accused in printing protest leaflets (listovka means leaflet in Russian).

On 4 August two anarchist women were detained, they were arrested for 15 days each. Ilya Senko, detained on the same day received two consequent arrests of 15 days each. Officers of GUBOPiK political police tortured him extracting confessions in participation in protest marches. If Ilya were to confess, he would become a defendant in a criminal case, but he managed to stand the tortures. After serving 30 days of arrest, Ilya had to leave Belarus.

On 11 August cops visited real and nominal residence places of at least eleven anarchists in Minsk, Kobryn, Bychaŭ, Homiel, Hrodna and other cities. Four persons were detained. Two were sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest each, two — to 15 days each. Some comrades had left the country way before, but pressure was exerted on their relatives, including ʻinformal talksʼ with police both at home and at oneʼs workplace.

Censorship and other issues

In the past several years, practically all Belarusian anarchist web-sites, including ABC-Belarus web-site, and many groups in social media connected to these web-sites, were included into the “Republican List of Extremist Materials” and blocked by Belarusian authorities (from within Belarus, it is only possible to access these web-sites via VPN or Tor). In 2021, there were ʻmerelyʼ four counts of anarchist and antifascist resources being declared ʻextremist materialsʼ, while hundreds of non-anarchist protest telegram channels were included into the list alongside major mainstream media outlets not controlled by Lukashenka (yes, Belarusian authorities do declare mainstream media ʻextremist materialsʼ).

On 7 June 2021 telegram channel of Pramen media collective (https://t.me/pramenby) and its chat “Anarchism in Belarus” (https://t.me/anarchy_by) were considered ʻextremistʼ by the court of Centralny district of Minsk. On 15 October the court of Čyhunačny district of Viciebsk declared Pramenʼs page in VKontakte (https://vk.com/pramen_2) ʻextremistʼ. The web-site and other social media pages of the collective had been declared ʻextremistʼ several years ago.

On 17 November 2021 the court of Partyzanski district of Minsk named the following telegram channels ʻextremistʼ: https://t.me/naroborona (“Prometei”), https://t.me/RebelWorlds (“Words of a Rebel”), https://t.me/revdiachat (“Ukrainian anarchism”), https://t.me/revdiachannel (“Revolutionary Action [in Ukrainian]”) https://t.me/naroborona.info (“Peopleʼs Self-Defence”), https://t.me/revdia.org (“Revolutionary Action [in Ukrainian]”).

On 29 December 2021 the court of Ivacevičy district (Brest region) included into the black list the social media page of fans of Ivacevičy football club: https://vk.com/fc_ivatsevichi .


On 12 February 2021 the KGB included anarchist political prisoners Ihar Alinevich, Dzmitry Dubousky, Siarhei Ramanau and Dzmitry Rezanovich into the “List of organisations and persons involved in terrorist activities” (see more on it in the section on their criminal case above).


On 2 November Revolutionary Action, and on 12 November Pramen were recognised as “extremist formations.” Recognition of Pramen web-site as an extremist formation is connected to the criminal case against Rubashko, Belov and Solovey, of the Revolutionary Action – to the case of an “international criminal organisation.”

In 2021 Belarusian punitive agencies started to employ more actively pressure on relatives as a method of struggle with political activists (including anarchists) who reside abroad. On 18 November a search was performed at the place of Jauhien Zhurauskiʼs mother in Baranavičy. By then Zhurauski had been abroad for more than a year, and cops knew it all too well; moreover, he had not been neither legal resident, nor de facto resident of his motherʼs apartment for several years before.
On 26 November, place of Roman Khalilovʼs mother, Gayane Akhtiyan, was searched in Polack. Khalilov resides abroad. Earlier in autumn, criminal cases had been opened against both Zhurauski and Khalilov (see above, in the section on criminal prosecution). Gayane Akhtiyan was detained and initially arrested for 10 days for ‘insubordination to police’, but then was transferred to Minsk as a defendant in a criminal case (art. 342, gross violation of the public order).

During the year, lawyersʼ licences were taken away from Anton Gashinskiy, Olga Karpushonok, Evgeniy Maslov and Natalya Mackevich who used to defend political prisoners including anarchists. Altogether 30 lawyers lost their licences for political reasons in Belarus in 2021.

One more form of persecution which activists in Belarus face is dismissal from oneʼs job. For sure, many defendants in politically motivated cases were fired. Apart from it, in July the contract was not prolonged with Anastasiya Kalashnikova who worked as a medical assistant at an ambulance in Minsk.

On the definition of a political prisoner

At the moment when this text is published, all anarchists whom ABC-Belarus supports were also recognised as political prisoners by liberal human rights NGOs. But often political prisoners in Belarus, both anarchists and not, have to wait many months until they would be recognised as such by human rights defenders, sometimes such recognition comes only after a court verdict.
At the end of October 2021 ABC-Belarus signed a collective statement of several dozen initiatives and persons proposing to recognise prisoners of Lukashenkaʼs regime as political prisoners faster and bolder (https://abc-belarus.org/?p=14425 , in Russian only).
Our collective maintains a list of all political prisoners in Belarus (https://abc-belarus.org/?page_id=13691 , in Russian only). At the beginning of 2022, we were able to locate 600 more political prisoners in the country than human rights NGOs counted (as of 10 February 2022, Viasna Human Rights Centre writes about 1040 political prisoners).

Beyond the countryʼs borders

On 21 April 2021 Ukrainian police broke into a rented apartment of a Belarusian anarchist Aleksei Bolenkov in Kyiv, made a search, seized all devices, and then SBU (secret service) officials handed Aleksei a deportation order. In Belarus, Aleksei would face criminal proceedings in a politically motivated case. He told SBU officers that he plans to apply for political asylum, but his statement was ignored. At the end, with a help of human rights activists and a lawyer, Aleksei refused to be deported from Ukraine and lodged an appeal to a court against SBU’s decision.
A similar order was also issued to Belarusian anarchist Artur Kondratovich from Ivacevičy, who left for Ukraine because of prosecution in the big-board arson case. But Kondratovich is under the international protection of the UN, so Ukrainian secret service cannot expel him.
On 21 July 2021 the Kyiv court of appeal upheld a complaint filed by Aleksei Bolenkov and overturned SBU’s decision to expel him from Ukraine. On the day of the trial, a group of far-right activists who advocated Bolenkov’s deportation gathered outside the court building and tried to attack him. A journalist from a local publication was injured. The scuffle also took place in the metro.

On 3 November anarchist Artyom Markin was denied entry into Ukraine after his plane landed in one of Ukrainian airports. He had to fly back to the country were he came from (Georgia). Later it turned out that Artyom was banned from Ukraine according to the decision of SBU (secret service). The decision was taken in November 2020; reasons for the ban on entry — “ensuring of national security and/or struggle with organised crime.”
Artyom had been an active participant of Food not Bombs in Minsk, had worked at Listovka printing cooperative. In August 2021 he was forced to leave Belarus fearing political persecution.
This was not the first time when anarchists were denied entry to Ukraine. In April 2021 another activist of Belarusian anarchist movement had been barred from entering the country. Fortunately, she was allowed to return to Poland, and not deported to Belarus.

In early June 2021, some activist who left Belarus and moved to Poland, were visited by Polish security officers. Unwelcome guests warned that the Belarusian KGB allegedly shared their personal information with Polish neo-Nazis. The visitors offered “protection” and asked to report on any activity of anarchists and antifascists in Poland. The activists refused to cooperate with Polish political police and made the information public.

As we wrote in the beginning of this text, the past year (2021) was predictably difficult. But it is way easier for us, who remain outside prison walls, than for those who are locked inside. Keep yourself outside of prisons — and support anarchist political prisoners.

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