In Belarus, even hair color can be reason for detention and fines

On 9 September, police detained 19-year-old Viktoryia Liovina as she was walking on a street in Minsk. Apparently, the policemen did not like her hair color. The police department drew up a report charging Viktoryia under Article 24.23 of the Administrative Code. The report stated that “she held a picket with her white-red-white hairstyle”.

Viktoryia’s trial took place on the same day. Judge Natallia Buhuk asked Viktoryia to turn around in front of the camera to demonstrate her hair color. Noting that Viktoryia had “a very interesting and unusual hairstyle”, the judge declared her guilty of picketing and fined her over $920 USD.

61-year-old Mikhail Dubina made a bet with two men on a trolley bus that he would shout “Long live Belarus”. It turned out that his challengers were plainclothes policemen. The man was detained at a bus stop and taken to a police station. Mikhail was charged with an unsanctioned rally (Article 24.23 of the Administrative Code) and punished with 30 days of detention.

Senior citizens Iryna Novik, Natallia Aheichyk, and Ala Buyankava, who had previously been tried for reading books in the Belarusian language on a train, were detained for taking part in a protest action in support of Maksim Znak and Maria Kalesnikava. Judge Dzmitry Karsiuk found them guilty and sentenced Natallia Aheichyk to 30 days of detention. Iryna Novik and Ala Buyankava received 15 days of detention each.

In July 2021, police officers detained a married couple Siarhei Krupenich and Nastassia Krupenich-Kandratsieva. They were sentenced to 41 days of administrative detention each for sharing information from opposition “extremist channels” in personal chat messages. On 25 August, the couple was released. At home, they were met by policemen asking them to come to a police station the following morning to “sign some documents”. At the police station, the couple learned that they were charged under Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code again and sentenced to another 15 days of detention each. Today, Nastassia and Siarhei were supposed to be released. But it did not happen as their term of imprisonment was extended again.

A sound engineer and musician of the band Favorite Mirror Aliaksei Busel and his mother Tatsiana were detained during a raid on a residential courtyard march in one of Minsk neighborhoods. The family’s apartment was searched, ending in the arrest of Aliaksei’s father Siarhei Busel. He was released the same night. Later, Aliaksei’s brother Siarhei was summoned to the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption.

At the trial, Aliaksei stated that all he did was throw a white-red-white flag over his shoulders. Aliaksei also spoke out about security forces’ violence: he complained of being transported on the floor of a police transporter vehicle, beaten, and hit with a stun gun. Nevertheless, Aliaksei and his retired mother were sentenced to 15 days of detention.

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