On February 7, 2022, the Berestovitsa District Court sentenced 69-year-old pensioner Galina Mikhalchuk to 2.5 years in prison. Galina was found guilty under three articles of the Criminal Code. Before this, the pensioner had a criminal record under Article 369 of the Criminal Code (insulting a representative of the authorities) – for this, she received two years of restriction of freedom without being sent to a correctional institution. In addition, from her 500-ruble pension, the woman will pay moral compensation to the injured security forces.
Previously, the regime did not seek to sentence pensioners to imprisonment – they were assigned a restriction of freedom without being sent to a correctional institution, fines or administrative arrests. For a long time, the oldest political prisoner was Vladimir Nepomnyashchikh, 69, sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for insulting an assistant prosecutor. In September 2021, the regime imprisoned Emma Stepulenok, 68, a former teacher from Miyory, for commenting on the murder of Andrei Zeltser on social media. The trial of the woman has not yet taken place. Now age has ceased to be a mitigating argument and an obstacle for the dictator, who decided to fill prisons with protesters.
Galina Mikhalchuk was accused of writing comments on the «Volkovysk for Life» Telegram channel. According to the investigation, these comments contained insults against Lukashenka, security forces and officials, insulting their honour and dignity. Here are a few examples: «why does he humiliate doctors? Dear doctors, be prudent. After all, the chief … said that sometimes there is no time for laws, and therefore the oath of doctors. Long live Belarus»; «Now they are feeding on our fines, but this will end soon. There is hope that the new year will be without a creature»; «Let them think whether it is worth defending the bastard or being with the people. The creatures would have been arrested and judged long ago». The victims were Mikhail Sitko, Chairman of the Volkovysk District Executive Committee, Daria Bondarchuk and Maria Mazurkevich, police officers of the Grodno Department of Internal Affairs, Valery Romanchik, Head of the Police Department of the Volkovysk District Department of Internal Affairs, and Vitaly Osotsky, Head of the Volkovysk District Department of Internal Affairs. The total amount of moral compensation from them amounted to 5,000 rubles. The victims did not come to court.
The pensioner stated that she partially admits her guilt and no longer remembers what she wrote and did since the comments were a long time ago. The prosecutor noted that Galina Mikhalchuk is accused of «feeling hatred for the regime». The pensioner rightly answered that she did not threaten the state. Her 78-year-old husband said that she had not used the Internet before and did not understand what it was, and the comments could have been written under the influence of drugs that the woman drinks. Aggravating circumstances for Galina Mikhalchuk were the already existing criminal record and the commission of a crime «based on political or ideological hostility».
The pensioner called her imprisonment a death sentence: «I spent two months in prison. I know what it was, it was just unbearable. I didn’t know how I could do it. I repent and apologize. I don’t pose any threat to the country, any people, you understand? Once upon a time, I was also a police officer». Galina Mikhalchuk mentioned that she has two elderly relatives and her husband, who is almost 80 years old, in her care.
More than two years in prison is an examination even for a young and healthy person, to say nothing of a 69-year-old woman who, in the same way, will be forced to work for 8 hours at a sewing machine or knitting washcloths. In prison, Galina Mikhalchuk will not receive quality medical care and possibly the necessary medicines. As we already know, political prisoners in the colonies are treated differently, much worse than other prisoners. We can only do everything possible to release Galina ahead of schedule.