The monitoring of repressions against art activists and people from the cultural sphere during the 2020 presidential elections in Belarus (Until June 29, 2020)

INTRODUCTION / SUMMARY

We bring to your attention the monitoring of the persecution of people who have suffered for their art performances or because they tried to express their opinions in a creative way. For their art performances a number of persons were detained, arrested or harassed in another way.

At the moment (June 29, 2020, 11:00 p.m.), Our House’s human rights activists know of 73 cases of repressed people who are somehow involved in art activity in Belarus. Some of them have been prosecuted several times. In some instances, administrative prosecutions turned into criminal ones.

To represent the repressions by the Belarusian authorities in banal numbers: if we only consider  administrative arrests, the people in question have served (or will have served by the end of August) summarily almost two years – 623 days; besides, some of them are still in real prisons because of criminal proceedings. If we confine ourselves just to administrative proceedings, we can count as many as 50 days that these people spent in prison cells. At the moment, there are at least 21 people in prison, at least 20 of them are criminally prosecuted, which is somehow related to art work. They have already served 344 days within pre-trial investigations. The total number of days in prison is 981 days (more than two and a half years).

The total amount of fines that people of art have been imposed is at least 477 basic units, which is 12,879 Belarusian rubles or 4,770 euros.

The Belarusian government initiated at least 20 criminal cases against art activists, bloggers and other cultural workers. The mainly cases are initiated against YouTube bloggers and administrators of social networks. So far, only two bloggers manage to stay at large – Uladzimir Tsimafeyeu and Olga Zhurauskaya are still free, other bloggers are imprisoned. Most of them (and in the future – will be all political prisoners) are recognized as political prisoners.

The full list of repressed art activists is below.

We distinguish three groups of the people related in one way or another to art work who have been repressed:

  1. People repressed for their art products that for some reason jar with the state ideology and are critical of Aleksander Lukashenko and his system. For example, because of a poem, a state employer did not prolong the contract with a school teacher Hanna Seviarynets, which is tantamount to dismissal and, possibly, being blacklisted throughout state organizations. Artsiom Troitski was detained for wearing sports shoes decorated with images of cockroaches and having a poster with pictures of cockroaches. Ihar Shchamialiou spent a night in prison for a comment on social media. The group included YouTube bloggers, streamers, administrators of telegram channels, groups in Facebook and those who produced satirical products (pictures, motivators, photo collages, etc.), young people who conduct performances and flash mobs, etc.
  2. The people of art and culture repressed for expressing their critical opinion about the authorities. As a result of several trials, the writer Pavel Seviarynets has been imprisoned summarily for 90 days (15 days each term). Tortures were so unbearable that he resorted to demonstrate readiness to cut his veins. The documentary film maker Volha Nikalaychyk has been imprisoned for 58 days. In prison, she was deprived of hygienic means and the medication she needed; nor does she receive medical assistance.
  3. People who have suffered for their support of the art shop Symbal.by. Even those who do not organize art events suffer during these elections in Belarus simply because they dare support other art projects. For example, a group of young people was detained just because they queued at an art shop: they were detained right on the street and beaten. Since people did not give up and continued to come to the store and queue, the authorities arranged throwing water at them from a street cleaning machine. Summarily, people who wanted to buy art goods in the art shop were punished with 13 days in prison and 700 euro of fines. At least one person who wanted to buy art products at the art shop Symbal.by was fired. He had been employed in the Ministry of Emergencies.

However, the whole story is not limited just to “ordinary” fines and “ordinary” arrests. Some people of art are fired. There are more perfidious forms of persecution. In case of Siarhei Dzhyha, in addition to a fine, phone snapshots disappeared after his arrest. Some live reporters from the initiative group of Tikhanovsky were severely beaten during detainment. Now, deprived of legal assistancee, they undergo torture in a KGB jail.

Authorities threaten the blogger Palina Sharenda that they would take away her children.

At the moment, Belarusian human rights organizations (and, with a high degree of probability, international ones) have recognized 9 art activists as political prisoners.

In addition, the destruction of the ecosystem of Belarusian culture and art is underway.

  1. Eduard Babaryka, the son of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka, head of crowdfunding platforms Ulej and MolaMola, cultural manager, was detained and is now kept in a KGB prison.
  2. The cultural crowdfunding platforms Ulej and MolaMola themselves are blocked; their accounts are also blocked. Let us remind that a number of cultural projects were implemented through the ulej.by portal, including 211 cultural projects related to the publication of books for children and adults in Belarusian and Russian languages, 82 cultural projects theatre and cinema performances, documentary and short feature films, 77 cultural projects related to debut music albums and clips of already famous music artists, 92 media projects (blogs, journalism, online publications), 191 initiatives related to the social sphere (support for hospitals, animals etc.), 126 projects related to fashion design (clothing, accessories, creative products), 88 business projects – they all came to being through these platforms.
  3. The fate of the Belgazprombank corporate collection is unknown. The corporate collection of Belgazprombank is a collection of art works, created as part of the national historical and cultural project Art Belarus and at the moment has more than 150 exhibits: paintings, sculptures, and books. The basis of the collection are the works of Belarus-born artists from the Paris school: Marc Chagall, Chaïm Soutine, Faïbich-Schraga Zarfin, Pinchus Krémègne, Michel Kikoïne, Ossip Lubitch, Ossip Zadkine. 35 exhibits of the collection are included in the state list of historical and cultural values of the Republic of Belarus. Since 2017, most of the collection has been exhibited in the Art Belarus Gallery, located in the Palace of Arts and, until recently, has been available to all visitors. According to state media, “one and a half hundred paintings worth $ 20 million were attached to criminal cases, within which Belgazprombank employees are suspected to be accomplices.” Art experts call this a “raider seizure”. Today, the fate and whereabouts of the collection are unknown and there are fears that the paintings will disappear during the investigation and will be lost for Belarus.

We had to update the monitoring several times during the preparation because the repressions are increasing and we should expect the continuation of pressure against art and culture in Belarus.

We urge the international society to stop repressions against cultural workers, art activists and creative people in Belarus.

 

THE CONTENT:

 

Chapter 1. The administrative arrests of YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..3

Chapter 2. Fines for YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..8

Chapter 3. The criminal cases against YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….………9

Chapter 4. People who have suffered for their support of the art shop Symbal.by. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………11

Some abbreviations in the text:

* CFL  – Country For Life, the group of YouTube bloggers, film makers, photographs and satiric cartoons creators who created the video and other visual satiric content in Belarus

* IG   – Initiative group of a presidential candidate 

* CAO or CAO RB  – Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus

* CC or CC RB  – Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus

* b.v. – The base value is 27 rubles or 10-11  euros.

 

Chapter 1.  The administrative arrests of YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers until June 29, 2020

Name Art activity or occupation The accusation article Other repressions The days in prison before the trial The number of days in pre-detention center Total number of days in prison
1

 

Azarovich Luis Anti-Parade
2 Aliaksandr

No name

 CFL 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
3 Anastasiya administrator of social networks
4 Andreyeu Aliaksandr administrator of social networks
5 Aranovich Aliaksandr CFL 23.34 CAO, 342 CC 1 32 6
6 Arshynski Mikhail blogger p.2 22.9 CAO   p.1 23.34 CAO 4 21
7 Babaryka Eduard Cultural worker 243 CC 12
8 Barsukova Yuliya administrator of social networks p.1 23.34 CAO 23.34 CAO
9 Biakaliuk Dzmitry art perfomance p.3 23.34 CAO 3
10 Babrouski Vasily CFL p.1 342 CC  Search of flat by police 32
11 Bahamolau Andrei musician p.1 23.34 CAO
12 Bespalau Siarhei administrator of social networks Threats of CC and threats of search by police
13 Varantsou Mikhail Anti-Parade
14 Dzemchanka Ilya Support of art chop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
15 Daletski Kanstantsin administrator of social networks detained
16 Zhurauskaya Volha blogger 17.1 CAO, 369 CC РБ
17 Illiuk Andrei  CFL detained
18 Kabanau Aliaksandr blogger p.1 23.34 CAO p.3 23.34 CAO 1 18
19 Kalach Vasily Teather director «Heksahen» 23.34 CAO 5
20 Kalko Yuri Art perfomance p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO 6
21 Kenharli Rafik Support of art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
22 Klaukin Uladzislau Anti-Parade detained
23 Kazlou Dzmitry blogger p.3 23.34 CAO detained 1 20
24 Kanavalava Antanina administrator of social networks detained
25 Karaliou Mikhail administrator of social networks detained
26 Karalenka Ulad blogger 343 CC 17
27 Krutkin Ales blogger, poet detained Search of flat by police 1 15
28 Kuzniatsou Aliaksandr Support of art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
29 Lauretski Daniil Anti-Parade p.3 23.34 CAO 3 13
30 Lazarenka Siarhei  CFL detained
31 Losik Ihar administrator of social networks 342 CC РБ Search of flat by police 5
32 Lukomski Dzmitry CFL blogger p.1 23.34 CAO 15
33 Markelau Piotr  leagalize Belarus 23.4 CAO      17.1 CAO 2 10
34 Maslouski Mikalai blogger p.3 23.34 CAO 15
35 Mikhalevich Andrei Administrator of telegram channel p.2 17.11 CAO
36 Naumik Uladzimir CFL p.1 342 CC  search of flat by police 22
37 Unknown Art perfomance detained
38 Niaronski Uladzimir blogger p.1 342 CC, 23.34 CAO 1 5 25
39 Nikalaychyk Volha Documentary film maker 23.34 CAO        p.3 23.34 CAO Deprived of hygiene and medicine 1 58
40 Palchys Eduard blogger 23.34 CAO 30
41 Pashkevich Usiaslau blogger 23.34 CAO 1
42 Piatrukhin Siarhei blogger p.1 23.34 CAO, p.1 342 CC Was imprisoned together with people sick for COVID19 5 14 15
43 Paliyenka Dzmitry Art activist p.2 23.34 CAO
44 Paplauski Aliaksandr Support of art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
45 Popov Dzmitry administrator of social networks CFL 26 15
46 Prakopchyk Liza Anti-Parade 23.34 CAO 3 5
47 Prus Ivan Blogger акция звонок 17.1 CAO
48 Raychonak Aliaksandr Support of art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
49 Raznichenka Yauhen CFL 23.34 CAO, 364CC РБ search of flat by police 32 6
50 Ramiazouski Ivan blogger 23.34 CAO 1 15
51 Rudzevich Dzianis blogger 22.9 CAO
52 Saurytski Pavel Anti-Parade
53 Sakau Artsiom CFL 23.34 CAO, p.1 342 CC РБ 1 30 5
54 Seviarynets Hanna poet Lost her job
55 Seviarynets Pavel writer p.3 23.34 CAO tried to commit the suicide against torture in prison 1 90
56 Siarohin Kanstantsin blogger 23.4 CAO detained in 23:00 3
57 Sparysh Siarhei Administrator of Facebook group 23.4 CAO Police violence during detention 1 23
58 Surynin Ihar Support of art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
59 Tsimafeyeu Dzmitry blogger 23.34 CAO 23.4 CAO       23.5 CAO, 189 CC 3 22
60 Tsikhanouski Siarhei blogger p.1 23.34 CAO 23.34 CAO, p.1 342 CC, 191 CC 32 45
61 Tsikhanau Ilya administrator of social networks p.1 23.34 CAO 2 10
62 Troitski Artsiom Art perfomance detained
63 Ushak Viarhili оператор p.1 342 CC РБ 32
64 Furmanau Dzmitry CFL p.1 342 CC РБ 32
65 Tsukanau Aliaksandr blogger p.1 23.34 CAO detained 3 40
66 Tsyhanovich Uladzimir blogger 23.34 CAO 23.4 CAO 15 30
67 Sharenda Andrei Art perfomance the property seized
68 Sharenda Palina Art perfomance the property seized
69 Shashok Stas Anti-Parade
70 Shchamialiou Ihar For comment in social networks 23.34 CAO 1
71 Yuliya (unknown) streamer
72 Yanovich Veranika Anti-Parade
73 Yanushkouskaya Alena blogger Prevention, p.3 23.34 CAO 6
TOTAL 50 344 623

 

The conclusion from the table: this is 73 cases of repressed people who are somehow involved in art activity in Belarus. Some of them have been prosecuted several times. In some instances, administrative prosecutions turned into criminal ones. To represent the repressions by the Belarusian authorities in banal numbers: if we only consider  administrative arrests, the people in question have served (or will have served by the end of August) summarily almost two years – 623 days; besides, some of them are still in real prisons because of criminal proceedings. If we confine ourselves just to administrative proceedings, we can count as many as 50 days that these people spent in prison cells. At the moment, there are at least 21 people in prison, at least 20 of them are criminally prosecuted, which is somehow related to art work. They have already served 344 days within pre-trial investigations. The total number of days in prison is 981 days (more than two and a half years).

The main articles in CAO used against YouTube bloggers, cultural workers and art activists.

Article 23.34 of the CAO – Violation of the procedures for organizing or conducting public events /actions; including part 3 of Article 23.34 of the CAO   – Acts provided for in paragraph 1 of this article, that are committed repeatedly within one year after imposing an administrative penalty for the same violations – entail a fine in the amount of from twenty to fifty basic units or administrative arrest.

 

Article 23.4 of the CAO   – Disobedience to a lawful order or requirement of an official in connection with the performance of his/her official duties;

 

Article 17.1 of the CAO (Hooliganism) – insulting actions to violate public order.

Article 22.9 of the CAO (Violation of the legislation on the mass media), part 2 – violation of the established procedure for sending mandatory free copies of periodicals, the distribution of erotic publications, the publication and dissemination of information about the refutation, as well as the illegal production and (or) distribution of mass media

Article 23.5 of the – Insulting of state bodies during their realization of state duties

 

Chapter 2. Fines for YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers in Belarus

  Name Art activity or occupation Article of CAO The days in prison before the trial Fines (b.v.)
1 Aliaksandr (фамилия неизвестна)  CFL 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO 50
2 Arshynski Mikhail blogger p.2 22.9 CAO  p.2 22.9 CAO p.1 23.34 CAO 23.34 CAO 42
3 Barsukova Yuliya administrator of social networks p.1 23.34 CAO 23.34 CAO 30
4 Zhurauskaya Volha blogger 17.1 CAO 30
5 Kalko Yuri Art perfomance p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO 6 70
6 Kazlou Dzmitry blogger p.3 23.34 CAO detained 50
7 Kanavalava Antanina administrator of social networks 20
8 Karaliou Mikhail administrator of social networks 4
9 Pashkevich Usiaslau blogger 23.34 CAO 1 30
10 Prus Ivan blogger 20
11 Tsimafeyeu Dzmitry blogger 23.34 CAO 23.4 CAO       23.5 CAO 1
12 Tsikhanouski Siarhei blogger p.1 23.34 CAO 23.34 CAO p.1 23.34 CAO 45
13 Shashok Stas Anti-Parade
14 Yanushkouskaya Alena blogger Prevention,

p.3 23.34 CAO

6 85
TOTAL 13 477
        Days in prison Fines
    TOTAL in BYN   12879  
      TOTAL in Euro   4770

 

The conclusion from the table: 14 people were fined 12,879 rubles, which on average is almost a thousand rubles per person, or 340 euros per person. In addition, three of those fined, in addition to their fines, were imprisoned for 13 days before trial.

From the correlations of the repressions from the table #1 and the table #2, we can see the state strategy for the persecution of this presidential campaign – the government is trying to isolate all creative people and art activists, to detain most art activists and creative people in prisons until the end of the election.

Chapter 3. The criminal cases against YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers

 

  Name Art activity or occupation The article in     CC RB The number of days in pre-detention centre The status
1 Aranovich Aliaksandr CFL 342 CC РБ 32 Political prisoner
2 Babaryka Eduard Cultural worker 243 CC 12 Political prisoner
3 Babrouski Vasily CFL p.1 342 CC, search of flat by police 32 Political prisoner
4 Zhurauskaya Volha blogger 369 CC РБ
5 Kabanau Aliaksandr blogger p. 1 art. 342 CC
6 Karalenka Ulad blogger 343 CC 17 Political prisoner
7 Losik Ihar administrator of social networks 342 CC 5 Political prisoner
8 Naumik Uladzimir CFL p.1 342 CC  search of flat by police 22 Political prisoner
9 Niaronski Uladzimir blogger p.1 342 CC 5  
10 Piatrukhin Siarhei blogger p.1 342 CC 14  
11 Popov Dzmitry administrator of social networks CFL detained 26
12 Raznichenka Yauhen команда CFL 364 CC search of flat by police 32
13 Sakau Artsiom оператор CFL p.1 342 CC 30 Political prisoner
14 Statkevich Mikalai Politician,

blogger


p. 1 art. 342CC
3
Political prisoner
14 Tsimafeyeu Dzmitry blogger 189 CC
15 Tsikhanouski Siarhei blogger p.1 342 CC,

191 CC

32 Political prisoner
16 Ushak  Viarhili CFL p.1 342 CC 32 Political prisoner
17 Furmanau Dzmitry CFL p.1 342 CC 32 Political prisoner
18 Tsyhanovich Uladzimir blogger 15 Political prisoner
20 Tsyhanovich Uladzimir блогер 15 Political prisoner
           
      TOTAL days in prison 344  

 

The conclusion from the table: the Belarusian government initiated at least 20 criminal cases against art activists, bloggers and other cultural workers. The mainly cases are initiated against YouTube bloggers and administrators of social networks. So far, only two bloggers manage to stay at large – Uladzimir Tsimafeyeu and Olga Zhurauskaya are still free, other bloggers are imprisoned. Most of them (and in the future – will be all political prisoners) are recognized as political prisoners.

The criminal articles against YouTube bloggers, art activists and cultural workers:

Article 191. Obstruction of the exercise of electoral rights, the right to participate in a referendum, or the performance of the right of legislative initiative of citizens, or the work of the Central Commission of the Republic of Belarus on the election and conduct of Republican Referendums, election commissions, referendum commissions, election commissions on the recall of a deputy – ( Part 1) shall be punished with community service, or a fine, or correctional labor for a term of up to two years, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term;

 

Part 1, article 342. Organization of group actions that grossly violate public order and involve obvious disobedience to the legitimate requirements of representatives of the authority or entail disruption of the work of transport, enterprises, institutions or organizations, or active participation in such actions in the absence of characteristics of a more serious crime –– shall be punished with a fine, or arrest, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term;

Article 364. Violence or the threat of violence against a member of the internal affairs bodies or his relatives in order to obstruct his legitimate activities; or to force him to change the nature of this activity; or out of revenge for the performance of official activities — shall be punished with arrest or restriction of liberty for a term of up to five years or imprisonment for up to six years;

Article 369. Public insult of a representative of the authorities in connection with the performance of his/her official duties – shall be punished with community service, or a fine, or correctional labor for a term of up to two years, or arrest, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years;

Article 343. Production and distribution of pornographic materials or objects of a pornographic nature – (Part 1) shall be punished with community service, or a fine, or correctional labor for a term of up to two years, or arrest;

Article 421. Non-compliance with the requirements of preventive supervision without good reason, committed by a person who is under preventive supervision, who was subjected to administrative punishment for the same violations twice a year – is punishable by arrest or imprisonment for a term of up to one year;

Part 2, article 430. Receiving a bribe repeatedly, through extortion, or through a group of persons with prior conspiracy, or in large amounts – shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of three to ten years with a fine and deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities;

 

Article 209. Fraud –– shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to ten years with a fine;

 

Article 189. Intentional humiliation of the honor and dignity of a person expressed in the indecent form (insult), in a public speech, or in a printed or publicly displayed work, either in the media or in the information disseminated on the World Wide Web – Internet; another public telecommunication networks or a dedicated telecommunication network, – shall be punished with a fine, or correctional labor for a term of up to two years, or arrest, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years;

 

Article 235. Legalization (“laundering”) of funds obtained by criminal means – shall be punished by deprivation of liberty for a term of five to ten years with a fine and with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities;

Article 243. Evasion of the payment of taxes and fees – shall be punished by restraint of liberty for a term of up to five years with a fine and with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities; or without deprivation of liberty or deprivation of liberty for a term of three to seven years with a fine and with deprivation of the right to occupy certain positions or engage in certain activities or without deprivation.

Chapter 4. People who have suffered for their support of the art shop Symbal.by or art people under repressions. Even those who do not organize art events suffer during these elections in Belarus simply because they dare support other art projects. For example, a group of young people was detained just because they queued at an art shop: they were detained right on the street and beaten. Since people did not give up and continued to come to the store and queue, the authorities arranged throwing water at them from a street cleaning machine. Summarily, people who wanted to buy art goods in the art shop were punished with 13 days in prison and 700 euro of fines. At least one person who wanted to buy art products at the art shop Symbal.by was fired. He had been employed in the Ministry of Emergencies.

 

Name Art activity or occupation Aricle in CAO /CC The days in prison before the trial The number of days in pre-detention center The number of days in prison Fines (b.v.)
Babaryka Eduard Cultural worker 243 CC РБ 12
Biakaliuk Dzmitry Art activist p.3 23.34 CAO 3
Dzemchanka Ilya For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Kalko Yuri Art perfomance p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO 6 70
Kenharli Rafik For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Kuzniatsou Aliaksandr For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Markelau Piotr  Art perfomance 23.4 CAO      17.1 CAO 2 10
Paliyenka Dzmitry art activist p.2 23.34 CAO
Paplauski Aliaksandr For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Prus Ivan Blogger, for the calling to police with the question “How to be not detained” 17.1 CAO
Raychonak Aliaksandr For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Surynin Ihar For support of the art shop symbol.by p.1 23.34 CAO  23.4 CAO
Shchamialiou Ihar Comment in social networks 23.34 CAO 1
      The days in prison before the trial The number of days in pre-detention centre The days of arrests Fines (b.v.)
    TOTAL 9 12 13 70

 

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