According to the data of the MIA of Belarus for the date of January 29, 2021, more than 1200 teenagers participated in protest actions in 2020 after the presidential elections of August, 9 in Belarus. At least 11 minors became defendants in the criminal cases were launched in 2020 in Belarus related to the protest and electoral campaign.
Over 300 police reports were drawn against teenagers for administrative offences, about 400 parents and children were summoned to the sittings of the minors’ commission, where among other punishments they faced threats of removal of children from families for participation in the protest. As a matter of fact, there are cases of actual removal of children from families after participation in protest meetings.
Police operatives and other enforcers used torture and cruel treatment in relation to the minors, refused to provide them medical help, even in emergency situations. Besides that, the parents were not informed about the detention of their children, even in the situation when the minors were kept in custody for the whole night.
In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Belarus on 31 October 1990 and the Decree No. 18 of 24 November 2006 on complementary measures for State protection of children from families in difficulty were massively violated by state bodies in relation to the minors.
There are 11 under-age political prisoners in Belarus, serving their sentence in the juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk:
- Vital Prokharau
- Aliaksandr Viniarski
- Dzianis Khazei
- Mikita Zalatarou
- Maksim Shatokhin
- Ivan Patsiaichuk
- Eduard Kudyniuk
- Daniil Kalesnikau
- Maksim Imkhavik
- Siarhei Hatskevich
- Dzmitryj Stryzak
As of today, three minors, detained during the protests (Vital Prokharau, Aliaksandr Viniarski and Dzianis Khazei) have turned 18, the birthday they had to “celebrate” in prison.
Reference of ICCI Our House: The Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 executes sentences and organizes serving of sentences of the under-age convicts in compliance with the legislation of the Republic of Belarus. This is what is happening behind the closed doors of the only juvenile correctional facility in Belarus. Monitoring Report of Our House.
28 years and 9 months – this is the total time that the 11 children political prisoners of Belarus are going to spend behind bars.
Chronology of the prosecutions of the minors in Belarus
- On August 9, 2020 in Pinsk, 16-year-old Dzianis was riding his bicycle next to a column of citizens after the polling stations were closed. At a certain moment, the police cut the road in front of the column and began detaining the participants of the march.
One of the enforcers came close to Dzianis and hit him with a shield. In the result the boy fell off the bike and broke his arm. The enforcer twisted the broken arm and took the boy to the police station in that manner.
One of the detainees, a medical doctor by profession, tried to pay the attention of the police to the bad condition of the teenager and his broken arm. He asked to call an ambulance for the boy, but the operatives did not do that. They called health workers only one hour later, when the boy fainted because of the pain. Dzianis spent 12 days in hospital with the diagnosis “displaced closed fracture” and had a surgery.
- On August 10, 2020, enforcers severely beat 17-year-old Tsimur Mitskevich: because of the severity of the injuries, doctors had to place him in an induced coma.
The injuries of the teenager included craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, zygomaticomaxillary complex fracture, convulsive disorder, periorbital hematoma on the right side, multiple impact injuries of soft tissues and extremities, traumatic erosion of cornea of both eyes. When the schoolboy regained senses he said that he was going to his friend’s place to spend an evening there, but ended the day under torture by enforcers, the most frightening was oral rape with a baton by police operatives.
Later the Investigation Committee of Belarus said that the teenager was allegedly involved with an armed attack on a truck driver, and launched a criminal case against him under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (Mass riots). On September 8, 2020 Tsimur managed to escape from hospital with the help of several women. Four months later it was reported that he was in a safe place. Since March 4, 2020, Tsimur Mitskevich is fighting in Ukraine in K. Kalinovsky Regiment.
- On August 10, 2020, 17-year-old Yan Halko and 16-year-old Hleb Hunko were detained.
They were beaten, put psychological pressure on, kept with their heads against a wall for a prolonged period of time and deprived of sleep during the whole night. Yan was handcuffed at the detention. The teenager’s parents were not informed about their detention, the teenagers were tortured and forcibly kept in detention all night. They were detained because of a T-shirt with Pahonia (national Belarusian symbol).
There was an attempt to put the teenagers on record and give them the status of “children in a socially dangerous situation” to remove them from their families to a children’s home, but the timely intervention of Our House human rights defenders stopped the process.
Since the prosecution of the teenagers did not stop, and the threats to remove them from the families continued, on September 13, 2020 they left the country with the help of Our House. Currently they are fighting in Ukraine, in K. Kalinovsky Regiment.
- On August 10, 2020, 17-year-old resident of Zhlobin (Gomel region), Vital Prokharau, was arrested and badly beaten.
According to the prosecution, Vital threw not less than one stone into an avtozak (prison truck) on a protest action on August 10, causing material damage to the vehicle.
“They harassed him for two hours. Taught him to live his life, insulted him, told him they would put him to prison for a thousand years. He was tied up, when he was hit into his eye with a fist. All his spine is covered with bruises from batons, he has a black eye, there are injuries on his legs, lumps on his head, haematomas cover his whole body. He limps on both legs”.
Vital was release, but accused under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Republic of Belarus (Violation of the order of organization or execution of mass gathering events).
On August 26, a video appeared on the Internet, where Vital was saying that he threw stones into the prison truck, after which a criminal case was launched against him under Article 342 (organization and preparation of actions that seriously harming social stability, or active participation in them) and under Article 364 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (Violence or threat of violence against an operative of bodies of internal affairs). The minor Vital Prokharau was at home before the trial.
On February 8, 2021, he was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment in a juvenile correctional facility. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk. In January, 2022, it became known that Vital Prokharau was denied clemency.
Vital was recognized as a political prisoner on February 9, 2021.
- On August 11, 2020, 17-year-old Arseni Zakharevich was detained in Borisov.
He was arrested and beaten by enforcers. Later he was diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury, and his case was examined by a minors’ commission. His mother was seeking punishment for the enforcers, but the criminal case was opened against her. In the result, the family had to leave the country: first to Ukraine, and later to Lithuania.
- On August 11, 2020, in Gomel, 16-year-old Mikita Zalatarou, diagnosed with epilepsy, was arrested.
He was accused under Part 3, Article 339, of the Criminal Code (Particularly malicious hooliganism). Mikita allegedly threw a bottle with supposedly incendiary fuel into the policeman who was running after him. The teenager was beaten so hard during the interrogation that he lost consciousness and was taken to the intensive-care unit.
“Instead of investigating what had happened, the following day they took Mikita from the intensive-care unit and to the temporary detention facility. They summoned me for investigative procedures. I managed to talk to him, we were in the same room. I changed his clothes. He put his head on my shoulder and said: “Daddy, they beat me every day. The one who is seating at the table, he beat me. He said they mostly beat him on the back of his head not to leave marks. They beat him in the holding cell, beat him at the temporary detention facility”, – his father said.
During the investigation Mikita was accused under Part 1 Article 293 (organization of mass riots), Article 364 (Violence or threat of violence against an operative of bodies of internal affairs), Article 295 (Illegal acts in relation to firearms and explosives) of the Criminal Code of Belarus.
Mikita pleaded not guilty; he was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
There is information, that Mikita Zalatarou is regularly put into disciplinary intraprison confinement at the juvenile correctional facility, torture of the teenager continues.
Mikita was recognized as a political prisoner on February 26, 2021.
- On August 11, 2020, 16-year-old Mikita Sidarovich was detained in Grodno.
Police operatives beat him, painted his face with green paint (police operatives marked with green colour teenagers and young people during detention, signalling to others to put them to additional torture) and took him to the precinct. Later they called his parents and asked to come and take Mikita home. They seized his phone and promised to give it back after payment of fine (the sum is unknown).
Reference of ICCI Our House: Belarusian MIA operatives use colour stigmatization and marking on the detained peaceful protestants and Belarusian prisoners serving their sentences in detention facilities. Read “Colour stigmatization and marking of peaceful protestants and inmates in Belarusian prisons“, on the web-site of Our House.
- On August 12, 2020, 16-year-old Piotr Kiryk was detained in Minsk.
Piotr was badly beaten by OMON operatives who detained him, and then he was interrogated at the precinct for several hours. The forensic medical examination confirmed the teenager’s bodily injuries: multiple bruises and abrasions that could appear from not less than 25 injurious exposures.
Piotr was accused of an administrative offence under Article 23. 34 of the Administrative Offences Code. He was released on August 13, 2020.
- On September 6, 2020, during a protest action in Minsk 12-year-old Yaraslau (the surname is unknown) was detained because of the inscription “3%” on the asphalt in Pobetiley avenue in Minsk.
They drew a police report against him, seized his phone and released him. The decision was taken to put him on the list of juvenile affairs with a threat to remove the child from the family if he continued the protest activity.
- On September 6, 2020, 16-year-old student of Grodno State Polytechnic College Kiryl Keturka was detained in Minsk. They drew a police report against him for violation of the order of execution of mass gathering events.
On November 5, 2020, Kiryl was fined in the amount of 10 basic units equaling to 270 rubles (90 euro) and put him on record for a year (which means systematic visits of the police and very serious pressure on the family).
On February 3, 2022, he was detained again, at that time Kiryl was already 18. He was detained and searched for comments he left on the Internet in 2020.
On May 6, 2022, Kiryl was found guilty under Part 1 Article 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus and sentenced to 2.5 years of restraint of liberty without sending to an open type correctional facility. Kiryl was released in the courtroom.
- Daniil Kalesnikau is a minor resident of Zhlobin, born on December 1, 2003.
On the night of August 9 to 10, 2020, together with his father, Vitaly Kalesnikau, Daniil was in the central square of his town. There they stood together in a chain with other people, in the first row, shouting slogans. The investigation considers that they created obstacles for the movement of public transport.
A criminal case was launched against Daniil under Article 343 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (group actions, seriously harming social stability). Before the trial, Daniil was free under surveillance.
He was sentenced on June 28, 2021 to a year and three months of imprisonment. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Daniil was recognized as a political prisoner on July 5, 2021.
After the protest actions of the 10th of August in Brest criminal cases were launched under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (participation in mass disorder).
80 people became defendants in those criminal cases including 7 minors:
- Dzianis Khazei, born on October 9, 2003.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Dzianis was free under surveillance.
On March 10, 2021, Dzianis was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and taken into custody in the courtroom. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Dzianis was recognized as a political prisoner on March 12, 2021.
- Siarhei Hatskevich, born on December 19, 2003, a minor at the moment of sentencing.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Siarhei was free under surveillance.
He was sentenced on March 10, 2021 to three years of imprisonment. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Siarhei was recognized as a political prisoner on March 12, 2021.
- Aliaksandr Viniarski, born on August 19, 2003.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Aliaksandr was free under surveillance.
On March 21, 2021, Aliaksand was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and taken into custody in the courtroom. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Aliaksandr was recognized as a political prisoner on May 26, 2021.
Maksim Imkhavik, born on February 8, 2004.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Maksim was free under surveillance.
On July 12, 2021, Maksim was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and taken into custody in the courtroom. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Maksim was recognized as a political prisoner on July 19, 2021.
- Eduard Kudyniuk, born on December 23, 2003.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Eduard was free under surveillance.
On May 21, 2021, Eduard was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and taken into custody in the courtroom. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Eduard was recognized as a political prisoner on May 26, 2021.
- Ivan Patsiaichuk, born on January 20, 2004.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Ivan was free under surveillance.
On July 12, 2021, Ivan was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and taken into custody in the courtroom. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Ivan was recognized as a political prisoner on July 19, 2021.
- Maksim Shatokhin, born on April 23, 2004.
Charged under Part 2, Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus for protest actions held on August 10, 2020. Before the trial, Maksim was free under surveillance. On July 19, 2021, his preventive measure was changed, and Maksim was taken into custody at the pre-trial detention facility.
On August 12, 2021, Maksim was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. He is serving his sentence in the Juvenile correctional facility N. 2 of Bobrujsk.
Maksim was recognized as a political prisoner on July 22, 2021.
- On September 17, 2020, an activist of European Belarus opposition group, Alena Lazarchyk, was detained in Minsk while exiting the office of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”.
At the same time, her son Artsiom, a first-grader, was at school N. 126 day-care centre. Although Alena was released a few hours later, the pedagogues had already called bodies of guardianship, who took Artsiom to an orphanage of Frunzesnky district of Minsk. The explanation was that Alena had not arrived to pick her son up after 6 p.m. on her own volition, and had not been answering her phone.
Thanks to public pressure, the boy was returned to his mother the following day.
- On September 27, 2020, the spouses Natallia Sniazhkova and Herman Sniazhkou were detained together with their under-age children.
The next day Herman was sentenced to 14 days of arrest under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Offences Code of Belarus, and charged under Part 2, Article 363 of the Criminal Code (Resisting a police operative, accompanied by violence or threat of violence).
On September 30, 2020, the police came to search their house and seized a phone and a laptop. Natallia Sniazhkova was taken to the temporary detention facility, and the two children – to an orphanage. The police were also looking for the adult children of the spouses, living separately from them.
Currently, the family with the children are abroad, they managed to escape with the help of human rights defenders of Our House and Dapamoga.
- On September 27, 2020, in Molodechno, a kindergarten teacher closed the 3-year-old Aliaksei Rohau in a toilet during the naptime for shouting the slogan “Lukashenka must go to avtozak” (prison truck).
The kindergarten teachers tried to convince the mother that the boy invented everything and conspired with the supervisor to deny everything in order to hide the violence committed against the child.
- On October 7, 2020, the 13-year-old Anastasiya was detained together with her father-in-law.
They dragged her to the prison truck by her hair and sprayed pepper gas on her. Her face and chest were burnt. In the end, she was released from Leninsky Office of Internal Affairs with her mother after a “prophylactic conversation”, the father-in-law was later sentenced to 7 days of arrest under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Offences Code of Belarus.
The next day bodies of guardianship came to the apartment of the family to check the living conditions of the child. They threatened the family to put them on record as socially dangerous and to remove Anastasiya from them.
- On October 23, 2020, in the town of Dobrush, Gomel region, the police reported the detention of a 15-year-old child.
He conducted a Telegram channel, in which he published the data of the police operatives noticed while committing crimes against Belarusian citizens, and the data of their family members.
The child was not held criminally liable as he had not reached the age of responsibility for that type of offence; however, no hard evidence of his guilt was presented by the police.
- On October 29, 2020, an OMON squad came to Minsk Gymnazium N. 4 in full armor. During a break between lessons children came out in the street and made a protest action at school entrance.
The principal was calling the schoolchildren to his office one by one, while the rest of them were chanting “Let him/her out!” behind the door.
- On October 30, 2020, in the town of Zhabinka, Brest region, two children, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, were detained, their names and surnames are not known.
According to the police, they threw a Molotov cocktail” (an incendiary bottle – a general name for the simplest air-fuel explosive grenades) to a police car. No people were injured during that act. Taking into account the number provocations with Molotovs, arranged by the police operatives themselves, Our House is not confident it was the children who threw the incendiary bottle.
- On October 31, 2020, the family of Mikhail Suboch was threatened to be put on record as socially dangerous by the school administration, because the children had not attended school in the period from September, 1 to October, 26 in solidarity with the protesting citizens.
That reason was indicated in the explanatory note, provided by the parents. The teachers pressurized the family demanding to write another explanatory note with another reason why children had been absent from school and threatened to remove children from the family.
- In October, 2020, in Minsk, the 15-year-old Dzmitryj Stryzak, born on April 27, 2005, was arrested. He turned 16 in April, in the detention facility.
Dzmitryj was sentenced to imprisonment for creating the Telegram channel “Data of Punishers of Belarus” and published personal data of the enforcers there. In fact, it was a clone of the channel “Karateli Belarusi” (Punishers of Belarus). All the publications there were reposted from other channels.
Dzmitryj was sentenced in February, 2021 under Part 4, Article 209 (Fraud committed by an organized group or on an especially large scale), and Article 188 (Libel) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus to 2 years of imprisonment.
Dzmitryj is the youngest political prisoner.
- On December 13, 2020, in the town of Smolevichy, Minsk region, the pupils of the 11th form of Smolevichsky District Gymnazium were detained together with their pedagogue, Hanna Seviarynets. They were on their way returning from a rehearsal of a ballroom dance.
The boys were put behind bars, the girls were seated on benches, also they were commanded to stand with their faces to a wall. Later it turned out, that parents of the detained children came to the district office of internal affairs where they were told that children had used swearwords in relation to the policemen.
- On June 21, 2022, in the courtyard of a residential complex in Minsk, a police operative, a former head of GUPOPiK, Andrei Parshyn, who has recently been appointed to a General’s post in the Department of Operational and Investigative Activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, put up a fight and fired his gun at teenagers.
He tried to disperse a group of children near his house, the youngest of which was 11, but suffered a rebuff from a 16-year-old boy.
“Parshyn was returning home and started a conflict with the children. He said, why are you sitting there, is it your entrance? Not yours? Get the fuck out of here! Only using foul language”, – this is how the incident is described in the media. 16-year-old Yauhen D. responded that “they live in a free country and they are free to choose a bench”.
As witnesses say, in response Parshyn became furious and started hitting the teenager – in his face and neck, but met with a rebuff. Then he started firing his military gun at the children and shot the teenager in his leg.
Yauhen was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound of his leg, and Parshyn with a concussion after the conflict with the teenager. Currently the teenager in the military hospital, and has already had two surgeries.
A criminal case was launched against Yauhen, he is charged with hooliganism. At night GUBOPiK came to Yauhen’s family home with a search. The guy is from a family with four children. No criminal case was launched at the police operative who unloaded his assault gun at a group of unarmed children.
Children, participating in the protests, turned out to be the most defenceless and invisible group of the protesting community.
- Until now there is not even one international resolution on the issue, not even one international organization, dedicated to torture, threats of rape, threats of removal from families against the children, that participated in the protests, or against socially and politically active parents in case they continue their protesting activity.
11 child political prisoners of Belarus remain invisible: unfortunately.
- Rights of the minors, who participated in the protests themselves, or whose parents participated in the protests, have been violated on a mass scale at every stage of administrative and criminal procedures. All the detained teenagers were subjected to torture and cruel treatment by the police.
During detentions, the teenagers were massively threatened with rape, at least one teenager was actually raped orally with a baton, receiving serious injuries, trauma, and damage to his health.
- Three teenagers, that became victims of torture in Belarus, today fight in K. Kalinovsky Regiment for Ukraine.
The situation with the rights of the child in Belarus demands an immediate and serious attention and intervention of all international structures.