A 20-year-old young man was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for tearing down four state flags. This incident highlights many of the problems within contemporary Belarusian society. It is particularly striking because the individual who tore down the flags the flags is a Ukrainian citizen, and he was reported to the police by his own mother.

On June 23, the court of Borisov District reviewed the criminal case of electrician Mikhail Antipov, who was accused of insulting state symbols (Article 370 of the Criminal Code). The case was heard by Judge Tatiana Shiman.

As stated in the materials of the investigation, on the night of March 20, in the agro-town of Loshnitsa, Mikhail tore down four state flags. He damaged the flag fabrics and broke their poles. (The protocol even specifies that Antipov deliberately cut a piece of fabric from the state flag attached to the store building with a knife, then cut the rope of the flagpole with a knife, tore a piece of fabric from the second flag, and broke its pole). There are four episodes in total in the case. Antipov recorded his actions on his phone and posted the photos on his social media page.

However, remarkably, Antipov was arrested not because the police saw the photos on social media (they saw them later), but rather because his own mother reported the flag damage to the police authorities. Initially suspecting that her son “had done something wrong with the flags,” she urged him to go to the police, and subsequently, she herself informed a district police officer about the incident. Furthermore, Mikhail’s mother later testified as a witness in court.

After Antipov was arrested by the police, an additional crucial detail emerged: he is a Ukrainian citizen with a residence permit in the Republic of Belarus. Mikhail arrived in our country approximately 10 years ago, received free education, and is currently working on a temporary basis at one of the enterprises in the Minsk region.

Certainly, given the ongoing events – Russia’s war against Ukraine, in which tthe Belarusian regime sided with Russia – the attitude towards Ukrainian citizens in Belarus is quite biased, particularly from the authorities. Consequently, Mikhail Antipov was sentenced to one year and six months of imprisonment in a correctional facility of general regime.

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