Chronicles January-June 2018:
This document contains the chronicles of repressions against women activists and journalists in Belarus
during the first half of 2018. This state organised pressure varies in degree of visibility inside the country,
target groups, and methods. Many instances of violation of the rights of women activists have low visibility
to the international community as a number of reports of human rights organisations monitoring the situation
in the country often fall short of reporting about women. This series of chronicles aspires to fill in these gaps
by providing information with references to publications in media for other experts to update their databases.
Many of these women were interviewed by the team of experts of ‘Adliga’ and ‘Our House’; the collected
data will be used for future reports and shall provide a qualitative aspect of the repressions. Meanwhile, our
Chronicles contribute to the quantitate side of the political repressions.
Thus, quantitatively during the first six months of 2018 at least seventy eight (78) women were subjected to
the state induced pressure.
• Thirty two of them were detained by the police;
• detention of eight women was conducted with significant physical violence. One of the women was forcibly fingerprinted. Taken as a group, women activists and journalists were imprisoned for 24 days and had to pay fines equivalent to 7,213 Euros.
Other pressure methods included:
• political abuse of psychiatry and ungrounded confinement in psychiatric hospitals or threats to so (three women);
• confiscation of professional equipment (one woman);
• treats to terminate their parental rights (four women);
• loss of the job or threats to do so (five women);
• ungrounded inspection of belongings and body search (six women);
• psychological pressure by disruption of travelling (forcing women to leave the train on the border, being kept there for several hours, and released when no public transport was available any longer) (six women);
• issuing ungrounded jaywalking tickets and speeding tickets (six women).
Most repressed groups of women in the first half of 2018 included journalists cooperating with the media disliked by the Belarusian authorities, especially when sensitive for the government topics and events were covered; human rights defenders; and political activists that publicly expressed their opinion on sensitive for the authorities political issues (for example, on Kurapaty – area where a vast number of people were executed between 1937 and 1941). However, active women from other groups, for example, LGBTQI activists) were also pressured.
In this report we shall present the first part of the Chronicles that covers the most visible area of state repressions and give an account of detentions, and court hearings resulted in prison sentences or fines. In the reporting period most often women were accused of: illegal production and distribution of mass media products; violation of law on conducting mass events (Art. 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Belarus); failure to obey a police order/ police officer and resist to arrest (Art. 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offences); jaywalking ticket, violation of traffic rules.
January 12, 2018
Liubov Luneva, the journalist was accused of illegal mass media products – material for the Belsat TV channel and fined an equivalent to 420,6 euro. on January 12, 2018. New year and our monitoring opens journalist Lyubov Luneva.
February 18, 2018
Olga Chaychic, a freelance journalist was accused of illegal mass media products – material for the Belsat TV channel and fined an equivalent to 368 euro.
February 20, 2018.
Olga Chaychic. A freelance journalist was accused of illegal production and distribution of mass media products and fined an equivalent to 368 euros after a trial in Lida (judge Vladimir Fedorovich). The ‘illegal mass media product’ was a report about another trial on the very same Olga and her cameraperson one month earlier, in January 2018.
March 5, 2018. The journalist was fined again (the equivalent to 368 euros) after declared guilty of violation of the legislation on mass media for producing video materials about the inhabitants of a newly-built house in Fanipol, who were not given access to their apartments on time.
March 12, 2018.
Alena Shabunya. The journalist was found guilty of illegal production and distribution of mass мedia products and fined the equivalent to 210 euros.
March 23, 2018.
Olga Chaychits. Olga was on trial again (the court of the Frunzensky district of Minsk) for her journalist material covering protest of visually impaired residents of Yakubovsky streets in Minsk against the construction of a 16-storied building in their recreation area that would most likely destroy an available barrier-free
March 23, 2018.
Galina Smirnova. The leader of the Bobruisk chapter of United Civil Party and the head of the Bobruisk branch of the independent Trade Union was detained near the block of flats where she lived as she was leaving the taxi and taken to the police station. She was arrested on charges of jaywalking and resistance to arrest and
after being in detention for three days was fined the equivalent to 10.5 euros.
March 24, 2018
The coordinator of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party in Bobruisk and one of the organisers of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March) in Bobruisk was detained by men in civilian clothes. She was accused of jaywalking and failure to obey a police officer and was fined the equivalent to 10.5 euros.
March 25, 2018
A 72-year-old activist of the “Belarusian Popular Front” party was kept in the police station for nine hours. She was detained at the entrance of her house at 10:30 am when she was leaving the building and was released only at 7:30 pm.
Olga Chaychits. The journalist was stopped by the road police several
times in a row with short intervals for checking her documents as she was on her way to cover an unauthorized rally in Minsk. No unlawful activity was found by the police but those checks prevented her from being at the rally on time to cover the event.
Tatiana Mastykina, Anna Sakhankova, Anastasia Vasilchuk and Anastasia Loiko
All four women are human rights defenders (activists of “Vyasna” Human Rights Centre and the Belarus Helsinki Committee. They were detained shortly before the rally dedicated to the celebration of the
100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March), which women meant to monitor, was due to start. The observers were clearly marked: they were wearing blue waistcoats with an inscription “observer” on their backs, a badge with a
photograph, a surname, and name of the organization, which has sent them to monitor the action.
A law enforcement officer in civilian clothes demanded that observers go to a minibus for documents check. Despite their passports and certificates of observers were presented they were detained. Women were separated and taken to
different police stations where later , Anna Sakhankova were released with no explanations or any chargers.
Anastasia Loiko was accused of violation of law on conducting mass events.
Tatyana Mastykina was charged with violation of law on conducting mass events, failure to obey a police order/ police officer and participation in an unauthorized rally. The police officers used physical force against Tatyana and she was forcefully and painfully fingerprinted. She experienced not only physical but also psychological pressure and abuse.
The court hearing on the charges against two accused women were scheduled for the next day, March 26, 2018, but then was cancelled without the new date being announced.
Police failed to meet legal deadlines on the mentioned cases; the complaints on the unlawful procedure against the human rights defenders were not satisfied by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Ekaterina Andreeva (Bakhvalova).
A journalist of “Belsat” was detained right before the unauthorized rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March), where she was meant to life-stream from the site. She was forcibly put in a vehicle and transported to a police station. Later she was released without any explanation of the reasons for the detention.
Olga, spolitical activist and a filmmaker, was detained in Minsk when she arrived by taxi to the site of the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March). She was not allowed even to leave the taxi, instead she was pulled from the car by the riot police right into their vehicle.
The journalist was detained for over four hours after being taken from the site the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March).
The co-chairman of the “Vmeste” (“Together”) Solidarity movement – was detained from the site the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March).
The activist was detained on after being taken from the site the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic (at 25th of March).
She was detained at the the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic and accused of violation of law on conducting mass events.
The activist was detained before the rally dedicated to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic and kept for 15 hours in a police station, then released without any police reports being drafted or chargers pressed.
The freelance journalist from Glubokoe (Vitebsk region) was detained for about 14 hours after being stopped for ‘speeding’, although the journalist herself believed it was for driving with White-red-white flag in the car – a flag used most often by government opposition groups.
The journalist of RFE/RL “Svaboda” was detained in the centre of Minsk for using national symbols not approved by the government. Two men with no insignia on clothes twisted her hands and pushed into a van, where it was explained to Galina that there was a need to check her identity for a “crime committed”. She tried to show her passport, but the police were not interested in the document. Later, the journalist was released without any paperwork or a case filed against her.
Just as Galina Abakunchik, the journalist, was detained when she was leaving the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic. Later that day, she was released.
One of the organisers of the permitted by the authorities concert in Slutsk devoted to
the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic was detained on her way back to Minsk. Alina was arrested for crossing a street with violation of the traffic regulations. After a while the detained was released; she was fined for jaywalking
Irina Kuptsevich, Irina Khamrenko-Ushakova
Two journalists were detained as they were leaving by car Bobruisk for Minsk to join the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic
Was detained with her husband on their way from Soligorsk to Minsk to celebrate the 100th anniversary of BPR.
The activist was arrested in Dubrovno at 6 a.m. when she was leaving for Minsk to attend authorised by the authorities celebration of “Freedom Day”. Physical force was used against her; she was taken to the police station. With consent of the police she made a call, but the policemen thought she was photographing. Her phone was seized and she was accused of disobedience to the ‘legitimate demands ‘of a police officer. Natalia was kept arrested for some days.
March 26, 2018
Natalia was put on trial, the court hearing took place in Dubrovno. The activist collapsed in the court room, because she was not given food since the morning of detention on March 25. An ambulance had to be called in; the trial was postponed but Natalia was not allowed to be taken to the hospital.
March 30, 2018
Natalia Strelchenko was found guilty and fined (an equivalent to 80 Euro).
April 2, 2018
The journalist was declared guilty of violation of the law on press and other mass media and given a maximum fine for this infringement (the equivalent to 525, 75 Euros). The offence occurred when a media outlet, ‘Belsat’, took a life-stream from her personal account on Facebook which she was streaming from a police station.
The journalist was fined (the equivalent to 315 euros) for working ‘without accreditation’ and hence illegally producing mass media products. She successfully appealed this court verdict.
April 10, 2018
Anna’s court hearing on the case of violation of the law and other media took place in absentia.
April 20, 2018
Olga was fined (the equivalent to 420.6 euros) for the media materials about the employee of a collective farm in the Korelichi district who fired a man that complained of slavish working conditions.
April 25, 2018
Tatiana Belashova, Maria Artsybasheva
The independent journalists were detained near the building of a court in Soligorsk. The ground for detention was that policemen noticed a television camera, hence a document check and detention were necessary.
April 28, 2018
She was accused of participating in an unauthorized mass event and was detained. She was sentenced to 7 days of arrest. Two days earlier, on April 26, 2018, Olga took part in the demonstration “Chernobyl Way” and a picket drawing attention to the issue of political prisoners in the country.
May 7, 2018
The journalist was fined (the equivalent to 368 euros) for working ‘without accreditation’ and thus violating the legislation on mass media. The illegal materials included the coverage of the permitted rally of the Conservative Christian Party of the Belarus’s National Front that took place on March 24 and was dedicated to the Freedom Day.
The journalist with a fined (the equivalent to 368 euros) for cooperation with the ‘Belsat’ TV channel without accreditation and hence illegally producing and distributing mass media products. The case was based on the testimony of a policeman Dmitriy Shantyr, who testified that he saw how the Lyubov was interviewing people on the 13th of March 2018 during the opening of the commemorative monument to the founders of the Belarusian People’s Republic. It is noteworthy that the problematic video was never broadcasted.
Journalist Maria Artsybasheva was fined (the equivalent to 368 euros) for covering a rally supporting decriminalization of light drugs in February.
May 16, 2018
An independent journalist from Gomel posted a photo report from her personal trip to the Himalayas on the website of the ‘Belsat’ TV channel. Her publication “Breath-taking landscapes. The highest mountains in the world through the eyes of Gomel residents” was a reason for her being accused of working without accreditation for not registered in Belarus media and, thus, of illegal production and distribution of mass media products.
May 21, 2018
The freelance journalist was detained in Mogilev. Skrebunova was arrested at the entrance of her house at around 1 p.m. Alina was dragged forcibly into the personal car of a male police officer in the civilian clothes, Ruslan Morozov, where she was attacked; her phone was taken away. The journalist was accused of illegal production and distribution of mass media products for her video released on the 4th of April 2018 where she covered an issue of eviction of people in one of the streets.
May 21, 2018
Galina’s appeal of a court verdict to fine her for jaywalking and failure to obey a police officer left without reverse.
May 23, 2018
An administrative case filed against Alina for producing a video about a suicide of the head of the “Kupalovskoye” agro-industrial complex – Dmitrii Vasilevsky, in the Shklov district.
May 28, 2018
The journalist was fined (the equivalent to 420.6 euros) for coverage of the hunger strike of six women activists of the “Mother Movement 328”. In April 2018, the journalist made several online broadcasts on her Facebook page from an apartment where a hunger strike took place for almost two weeks.
May 29, 2018
The freelance journalist was fined (the equivalent to 525 euros) for cooperation with ‘Belsat’ TV channel and hence illegally producing mass media products. She was charged with producing the two above-mentioned videos.
June 01, 2018
Olga was detained by policemen in civilian clothes in Kurapaty – a woodland on the outskirts of Minsk where a vast number of people were executed between during the Great Purge between 1937 and 1941. Olga was accused of participating in an unauthorized picket in the evening of the 31st of May.
A petition to call to account police officers responsible for brutal actions during the detention of freelancer Alina Skrebunova on May 21, 2018 was left without satisfaction.
June 06, 2018
The journalist of the ‘Belsat’ TV channel was detained in Kurapaty. The police officers in civil clothes told a Belsat correspondent that her activities on the territory of Belarus are illegal then they grabbed her and put her in a police car. A case of illegal production and distribution of mass media products was filed against her.
June 20, 2018
An administrative case against Olga is filed for violation of the public order and of traffic regulations during the rally near the restaurant in Kurapaty.
June 21, 2018
The administrative case against Larisa (illegal production of mass media products on March 9th) was closed.
June 30, 2018
Police detained Olga Nikolaichik in the morning near her house when the activist was going to another protest in Kurapaty. The activist was sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest.
to be continued… (Never mind the double meaning)