In Belarus, it is not only adults who become victims of “justice”, but also adolescents. We have already talked about how punishers ruined the fate of children in 2020. Only a few of them become known – for example, Nikita Zolotarev, sentenced to five years for mass riots, who is ill with epilepsy, does not receive treatment in prison, is subjected to insults and beatings. But the wave of harassment of schoolchildren does not stop there.

On January 31, several children were detained in Minsk at once. Thirteen-year-old Timur Nedzvedz was put in a police minibus with his father Pavel. Three girls aged 15 were taken to the police station from a walk in the city. “The children were taken to the territorial police department, were interrogated by the police in the prescribed manner and handed over to their legal representatives. With regard to minors, the administrative process has not started,” the police said, specifying that the teenagers were detained not without reason. When asked why the children had spent several hours at the police station, the parents were cited to Article 24 of the Internal Affairs Act, which states that police officers may detain minors for the purpose of preventing neglect.[1]

On February 5, a sentence was passed on a 15-year-old teenager from Dobrush, who administered the telegram channel “Data of the Punishers of Belarus”, which tells about the security forces committing crimes against peaceful Belarusians. The minor was detained back in October and was in custody. He was sentenced to two years in prison in an educational colony.[2]

On February 8, the Zhlobin district court considered the criminal case of 17-year-old Vitaly Prokhorov. The boy was accused of throwing a stone at the police van on 10 August, causing material damage to the vehicle (820 roubles). During the arrest, he was severely beaten. At the trial, the teenager said that he did not throw a stone, but only reported it for the sake of PR in social networks. He was sentenced to two years in prison in an educational colony.[3] In prison, Vitaly receives food aid from the ICCI “Nash Dom”.

On February 13, Belarus learned about the 13-year-old saxophonist Anna Zenina – the girl refused to participate in the competition organized by Belteleradiocompany. She motivated her refusal by a civil position and disagreement with the broadcaster’s policy. The behavior of the schoolgirl is not surprising – her mother Tamara ended up at Akrestsina for a whole day, where the First Channel of the Belarusian Radio was turned on for people at full volume. It was in a contest on this channel that Anna was due to enter a little later. After the refusal, the saxophonist was expelled from the quartet.[4]

On March 10, the trial of 17-year-old Denis Khozei took place in Brest. The guy was accused of participating in mass riots (Article 293 of the Criminal Code) on August 10 in Brest. On that day, it may be recalled, in the city centre, residents held a round dance at the crossroads to protest against the election results. The result was a criminal case. Denis was sentenced to 3 years in prison in an educational colony.[5]

Among the accused in the “round dance case” is another minor, 11-grader from Brest Sergei Gatskevich. He also received 3 years of imprisonment in an educational colony. Before the trial, he was under supervision and was taken into custody in the courtroom. The rest of the accused in this case were also recognized as political prisoners.

On March 29, 13-year-old Evgenia Vorochkova did not return home from a walk. Her mother started calling her daughter on her mobile, but the investigator spoke to her on the phone, who said that the girl had been detained. It turned out that while walking with friends, the schoolgirl wrote the word “LIVE” with a spray can of paint on the footpath. The policemen standing nearby took her and two other teenagers with whom she was. The mother was not allowed to be present at Eugenia’s interrogation. The 13-year-old girl spent about two hours alone in the police station. On April 8, the girl’s mother went to the police for a conversation:

– I explained why my daughter wrote “LIVE” in Belarusian. Zhenya is engaged in folk dances, Belarusian culture is with her all her life. To this I was told that it is not customary for young people to speak Belarusian, and the word “live” in combination with another word means a lot.

The girl was accused of an unsanctioned picket “with the aim of publicly expressing her protest over the fact of holding fair elections” (Article 24.23 of the Administrative Code). Eugenia’s mother will have to pay a fine of 290 rubles for failing to fulfill the duties of raising children (article 10.3 of the Administrative Code).[6]

And finally, another shocking story, where a child who has not even reached the age of 10 was intervened in politics. The parents of 8-year-old Anna Pekarskaya from Korelichi were shocked when their daughter received a summons from the police. On April 17, it became known that the baby was summoned there in the case of her father, who left a comment on the Telegram channel. At the same time, the girl’s father, Roman Pekarsky, has not lived in Belarus for 14 years, and his daughter has been to Korelichi only a few times in her life and has been a citizen of another country since birth.[7]

The protection of children should be one of the priorities of the state. However, in Belarus so far only security forces, officials and propagandists who support the authorities are worthy of protection. Children, on the other hand, are allowed to grow up ahead of time and get acquainted with the realities where for a civil position one can end up in prison. But we very much hope that after the victory little Belarusians will be able to remember that they are still children. And for the months of their childhood taken away, the punishers will be held accountable under the law.