On June 25, 2024 the trial of Veronika Tsapkala, winner of the Charlemagne Prize and the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, Olga Karach, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Yauhen Vilski, acting chairman of the social-democratic party “Narodnaya Hramada”, Anatol Kotau, civil and public figure, and Vadzim Dzmitrenak, cultural figure and architect, starts in Brest Regional Court.

All of us are charged under five articles of the Criminal Code of Belarus, including “conspiracy to seize state power” and “discrediting Belarus”. For this we face prison terms of up to twelve years in prison.

The trial will take place in an atmosphere of state terror and violence against civil society. In Belarus, after 2020, the independent bar is liquidated. Even state lawyers are disbarred and imprisoned for their professional activities and protection of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s political opponents.

Today we see sentences in absentia; journalists and lawyers receive huge sentences for practicing their profession. There are repeated trials of political prisoners who have already served their sentences, proceedings on “extremist materials” continue. Criminal cases are opened even against the dead people.

We, participants in this criminal “trial”, do not recognize any of the facts of the charges brought against us, we consider them politically motivated and irrelevant to justice. We consider this trial to be another attempt to stop the development of civil society in the struggle for democracy and human rights, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Act on Civil and Political Rights and other international legal documents ratified by the Republic of Belarus.

We will not retreat in our struggle for human rights, democracy and for the right of the Belarusian people to participate in fair and free elections, as required by the Constitution and Laws of the Republic of Belarus.


Veranika Tsapkala

Olga Karach

Yauhen Vilski

Anatol Kotau

Vadzim Dzmitrenak