Students, journalists, female leaders, volunteers, human rights activists, and those who simply care, who at some point did not pass by and were caught up in the millstone of repression. The authorities have failed to break them, even by putting them behind bars. Below is our story about those who met International Women’s Day in the circle of inmates with or without political prisoner status.
On June 11, the coordinator of the initiative group of Viktor Babariko, Svetlana Kupreeva, was arrested. Her house was rummaged, and she herself was taken to the KGB pre-trial detention center. Her relatives were able to give her things only four days after her arrest. Svetlana was charged under Article 243 of the Criminal Code (tax evasion). Since October 2020, no investigative actions have been conducted in her case.
On August 6, a Gomel resident Tatiana Kanevskaya, an activist of the Mother 328 movement, a confidant of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was detained. Tatiana was accredited as an observer at polling station No. 8 in Gomel, but she could not start observing on the main voting day. She was charged under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code – “Participation in riots”.
On August 10, 44-year-old Elena Movshuk was arrested in Pinsk. The reason for the arrest was a video where a woman who looks like Elena swings at the security forces. For four days, her husband could not find her and find out about her condition. Later, his wife’s cellmate contacted him and said that Elena was in the cell “naked, barefoot, beaten”. The woman has two minor children, one of whom, 10-year-old Angelina, was taken to a social shelter because her husband is her stepfather. The political prisoner in the pre-trial detention center was registered as “inclined to seize the administration, take hostages and manifest aggression”. Elena was charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code.
On 29 August, Natalya Raentova was detained at a protest march after biting the thigh of a riot police officer. The trial in her case took place on February 25. She was charged under Article 364 of the Criminal Code (violence against a police officer) and sentenced to 8 months in prison. In addition, she will have to pay the injured riot policeman 2 thousand rubles.
On September 6, Antonina Konovalova, a confidant of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was detained at a protest march. She was charged under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code and fined 40 basic units, but after the sentencing she was re-detained in a criminal case under Article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in mass riots).
On September 7, unknown persons kidnapped Maria Kalesnikava, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, head of the election headquarters Viktar Babaryka. Later, the authorities tried to take her to Ukraine, but Maria tore her passport and jumped out of the car. Maria Kalesnikava was charged under Article 361 of the Criminal Code (calls for actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus) and Article 357 of the Criminal Code (conspiracy to seize state power by unconstitutional means). Maria complained to the Investigative Committee about the torture and threats to take her out of the country “alive or in pieces”. A criminal case was not opened.
On September 17, Marfa Rabkova, the coordinator of the volunteers of the Viasna human rights center, was detained near her home. A rummage was carried out in her apartment, equipment, personal money and belongings were seized. She was charged under Part 3 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code (education or other preparation of persons to participate in mass riots, or financing of such activities). On 11 February, Marfa faced new charges: under Article 130 part 3 of the Criminal Code (inciting social hatred against the authorities by a group of unidentified persons) and Article 285 part 2 of the Criminal Code (participation in a criminal organisation). Marfa faces up to 12 years in prison.
On 19 September, Swiss national Natalia Hersche was detained at a protest march after ripping off a balaclava from a riot police officer. She was charged under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code, followed by Article 363 of the Criminal Code (resistance to a police officer). On December 3, a trial took place, at which Natalia was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. Twice during her stay in the pre-trial detention center, Natalya went on a hunger strike.
On September 25, volunteer Anna Sungurova was arrested. They came to her with a search, seized two computers and a telephone, and then took her to the Investigative Committee. Her mother only found out about her daughter’s detention from the riot case from the investigating officer. Anna has two minor children who live with her grandmother. Because of this, they want to be taken from the family. Anna was charged under part 2 of article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in riots).
On 7 October, 21-year-old Maria Safonova was detained for spray-painting “Long Live Belarus!” on the wall of a technical room, as well as on rubbish bins and on the pavement and drew a white-red-white flag. On November 12, a trial was held, Maria was charged under Article 341 of the Criminal Code (desecration of buildings and damage to property) and sentenced to two months in arrest.
On October 14, a former journalist of the newspaper Narodnaya Volya, Olga Klaskovskaya, was detained in Minsk and accused of blocking traffic at the intersection of Rokossovsky Avenue and Plekhanov Street. Olga was charged under Articles 342 (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them) and 339 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
On October 15, Victoria Mirontseva was detained in the framework of a criminal case under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order). The reason was a video from the protests on August 10, in which she was captured by her sister Anastasia Mirontseva, a student of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. Anastasia Mironseva was taken into custody the next day, October 16. A third sister, Alexandra, who was with them at the protests that day, left the country. She said that back in August the sisters spent 24 hours in the police station, knelt on the pavement for a long time and were not fed even once.
On 16 October, 21-year-old Aleksandra Potryasaeva, who was treating wounded people in the city and came under fire on the night of 10-11 August, was detained. For three days the girl was in the detention center on Akrestsina, where she survived beatings, humiliation, insults, she was threatened with rape. She was forced to undress, stand up to stretch and in the process was beaten without stopping, the beating being carried out by a woman. Note that Alexandra is an orphan, brought up in institution. After staying at Akrestsina, her ligaments were injured. Now she is charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code.
On October 20, a nurse from Vitebsk, Yulia Kasheverova, was taken into custody. During a peaceful protest, she tore off the mask from the riot policeman and kicked a police bus. On February 23, she was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in a general regime colony under Article 339 Part 1 (hooliganism).
On 23 October, Maria Nesterova, a former customs officer, was detained. The woman was picked up from a stairwell outside her flat and then taken away for questioning. Maria was an independent observer at polling station no. 4 in school no. 183 in Minsk. She was charged in pre-trial detention centre No 1 under Article 293(2) of the Criminal Code for participation in mass riots.
On October 28, Anna Vishnyak, a volunteer of the Drivers 97% Telegram channel, was arrested. During and after the protests, the girl helped deliver water around the city. Anna was charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them). The administrator of the same channel, Viktoria Kulsha, was detained on November 4. She was also charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
On November 12, the day of the arrest of student activists from the Association of Belarusian Students, students Anastasia Bulybenko, Ksenia Syromolot, Yana Orobeiko, Kasia Budko, Maria Kalenik, Viktoria Grankovskaya were detained. On the same day, Alana Gebremariam, a representative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for youth and students, and Olga Filatchenkova, a teacher at BSUIR, were arrested. Anna was charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them).
On 15 November, journalists Ekaterina Andreeva and Daria Chultsova, who were covering the rally, were detained during Sunday’s protest in memory of Raman Bandarenka. The girls were broadcasting live from the scene of the brutal dispersal of the demonstrators by the security forces on the “Square of Changes”. They were charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code. On February 18, the girls were sentenced to two years in prison.
On November 18, an activist, administrator of the Telegram channel “Maya Kraina Belarus”, Irina Schastnaya, was taken into custody. To do this, the IC staff dressed up in the uniform of the Housing and Communal Services employees. When Irina’s mother went into the entrance hall of the house, they asked her if there was hot water in the flat. People entered the entrance with her and brutally pushed the woman away. A search was carried out in Irina’s apartment, her laptop, telephone and money were seized. Irina was charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in mass riots).
On November 19, TUT.BY journalist Yekaterina Borisevich was arrested. She was accused of disclosing medical secrets regarding the death of Raman Bandarenka (Article 178 of the Criminal Code). She cited in the article the words of the doctor about the absence of alcohol in Raman’s blood, which contradicted the statements of the authorities. Catherine was sentenced to 6 months in prison.
On 23 and 24 November, a performance was held in the Mahiliou district. Residents of the regional centre made six life-size puppets “with cynical inscriptions and images of top officials and placed them on overpasses near the villages of Vilchitsy and Lyubuzh”. Photos of the puppets appeared on the Internet. On 24 November Mahiliou resident Olga Klimkova was detained on suspicion of hooliganism (article 339 of the Criminal Code). More than 800 copies of the unregistered newspaper “Mogilevskie Vesti” were found in her car. On January 16, it became known that Olga was accused of insulting the president (article 368 of the Criminal Code).
On 26 November, Tatsiana Ekelchyk, a student of the BSU Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, was detained. She is a suspect in the “student case”, whose defendants were detained on November 12. Tatiana was charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
On November 30, 18-year-old Sofia Malashevich was arrested. On 6 September, Sofia took part in a protest and painted with spray paint on the surface of special barrier shields. She was detained, but then released. And on 30 November she was taken into custody again, this time on charges under Articles 342 of the Criminal Code and 339 of the Criminal Code. She was also accused of insulting the president (Article 368 of the Criminal Code), she went to one of the chains of solidarity with an obscene poster. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
On 22 December, its founder Yulia Slutskaya, programme director Alla Sharko and Ksenia Lutskina, author of the alternative television project that was being developed under the Press Club Academy, were detained in the “Press Club” case. They were charged under Article 243 (large-scale tax evasion). All the women are being held in pre-trial detention centre No. 1.
Anastasia Nikitina, a mother of two underage children, was detained on 27 December after she scattered self-tapping screws near the Minsk city prosecutor’s office. During the arrest, the woman was put on the ground, handcuffed, and then beaten in a bus. She was not fed for a long time and because she has diabetes her sugar dropped, but she was denied medical care. Anastasia was charged under Articles 339, part 2 (malicious hooliganism) and 14 of the Criminal Code (attempted crime) and sentenced to 1 year and 1 month in prison.
On January 3, a local activist of the “European Belarus” Polina Sharendo-Panasyuk was detained in Brest. A criminal case was opened against her under article 364 of the Criminal Code (violence or threat of violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies). On December 29, her husband was detained, who spent 6 days in a pre-trial detention center.
On January 12, Interior Ministry officers arrested Irina Zlobina, the girlfriend of media manager Andrei Alexandrov, who was suspected of funding protest activities. According to the charges, Aleksandrov and Zlobina have been involved in financing individuals who took part in the protests in Minsk since August 2020, including by paying fines and reimbursing detention in the place of imprisonment. Aleksandrov paid 250 fines from August 22 to November 9. He and Zlobina were charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
On January 15, translator Olga Kalatskaya was detained. The investigation explained that she is being held in a criminal case under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them). Olga has an 89-year-old mother in her care. Earlier, the woman had appeared in a TV spot by STV’s Grigory Azarenok, where she had a heated argument with him during one of the protest marches.
On January 21, an activist from Rechitsa, a volunteer of the Gomel branch of the human rights center “Viasna” Tatiana Lasitsa was detained. She was also charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
On February 8, Anastasia Perevoshchikova, an activist from Gomel, was arrested for 105 days. Prior to that, she had been tried at least seven times under Article 23.34. The girl is accused of participating in at least 10 peaceful protests and developing the flag of the Novobelitsky district of Gomel.
On February 10, volunteer Kira Boyarenko was detained. A criminal case was opened against her under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order). Kira is in detention center No. 1 in Minsk.
On February 15, the KGB added 17 Belarusians to the list of organizations and individuals involved in terrorist activities. Among them are women Irina Melkher, Irina Goryachkina, Lyubov Rezanovich, Olga Mayorova, as well as pensioner Galina Derbysh. On March 10, the head of the KGB Ivan Tertel told Lukashenko that weapons were being transported to Belarus from Ukraine to carry out terrorist attacks and destabilize the situation, and five women and 12 men were involved in this. They are suspected under Article 289 of the Criminal Code (act of terrorism).
On March 1, 18-year-old Vitalia Bondarenko, a defendant in the case of the mass riots in Brest on August 10, was taken into custody. On February 27, Vitalia returned from abroad when her criminal prosecution ended. Two days later, however, she was placed in detention centre No. 7. Irina was charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code (participation in mass riots).
On 4 March, Brest resident Olga Glushen was detained as a defendant in the 13 September “round dance” case in Brest. Olga was a suspect and was at large, and on March 3 she was summoned to the Investigative Committee to familiarize herself with the case. The next day she was summoned again and detained. Anna was charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them).