We present to your attention the monitoring of repressions against snowmen and dolls in Belarus, prepared by the human rights defenders and activists of “Nash Dom”.

We would like to emphasize that the manufacture of snowmen and dolls in Belarus (regardless of their color) is not prohibited by Belarusian legislation and does not require special permission from state bodies, and also does not fall under the definition of an unauthorized action. Nevertheless, over the past year Belarusian snowmen and dolls, as well as their makers, have become victims of repression and unjustified prosecution that has no basis in Belarusian law.

We want to emphasize that making snowmen and dolls is also the inalienable right of all Belarusian men and women and encourage the protection of Belarusian snowmen and dolls.

Details of the repression against snowmen and dolls can be found below.

On January 30, 2019, the Brest District Court reviewed the administrative case of Yulia Nichiporuk, and gave her a fine of one basic rate (25.5 rubles, or approximately 10 euros).  The young mother was punished because the snowman her children had made was holding a flyer against the construction of a battery plant. The court considered the snowman as an participant in an unauthorized picket[1].

The photo shows the “protesting” snowman, made by Julia’s children.

On November 9, 2020, the court of the Novobelitsky district in Gomel fined the mother of many children Natalya Glazkova 810 rubles for the toy “Belorussky Zhdun”, which she sewed and then photographed. The court considered the photo of the toy as an “unauthorized picket”.

According to the testimony of the witness Yulia Ivanchenko, which was read out in court, she noticed two women in the Prudy recreation area who were photographing “a toy that looked like the president,” and therefore called the police. According to the protocol of police officer Yevgeny Kovalev, Natalya “presented herself with a toy in a red jacket and with a white-red-white flag in a pre-arranged place”.

The judge concluded that by their actions the women “tried to express their attitude to events of a socio-political nature without the permission of the city executive committee[2].”

As a result, the court fined the woman 30 basic rates (810 rubles or 270euros) “for an unauthorized picket”. Earlier, Natalya’s friend Aksana Likhadieuskaya, who also took part in the photo shoot with the toy, was also punished with a fine – in the amount of 25 basic rates (637.5 rubles or 250 euros).

Photo of the toy, which the court considered an unauthorized picket

On November 29, 2020, in Homel, two minibuses with riot police officers drove to a solitary “picket” consisting of one snowman. The snowman could not be detained, so the riot police detained a passing local resident[3].

The photo shows a “protesting” snowman, which nearly got detained by a dozen of riot police men.

On December 24, 2020, a resident of the Gomel region made a snowman with a mustache, wearing a red scarf and the inscription “LONG LIVE BELARUS” on his property.

Five days later, when the snow and, consequently, the snowman melted, a district police officer came to the man to draw up an administrative report under Part 1 Article 23.34. The police officer showed a photo of the snowman and accused the maker and the snowman of an unauthorized picket. Now the man faces a fine or 15 days of arrest[4].

The photo shows the “protesting” snowman.

On January 7, 2021, law enforcement officers carried out an operation to neutralize snowmen in the Lebyazhiy .Microdistrict of Minsk.

On January 12, 2021, an unknown man in civilian clothes broke into a woman’s apartment because of a snowman painted on the glass and threatened her with further problems if she did not remove the snowman from her window.

The Monitoring was prepared on the basis of public sources.