Political trials on 20 September

Russian citizen Irina Vikholm was sentenced to 1.5 years in a penal colony for slandering Lukashenko. Vikholm has lived in Brest for about 10 years and has been blogging on several websites. She was detained in May 2021, yet this fact became publicly known only in September. Criminal charges against Irina are based on her Twitter posts. Vikholm shared an article on the Ryanair incident by the BBC News Russian adding a headline only: “Another Crime of Lukashenko: An Act of State Air Piracy”.

Uladzimir Dudarau, a political prisoner and ex-deputy chair of the Mahiliou City Executive Committee, was sentenced to 7.5 years in a medium-security penal colony for alleged fraud and abuse of power. Yet, the real reason was his membership in Viktar Babaryka’s team.

Mykhailo Ferents, a 33-year-old Ukrainian citizen and political prisoner, was sentenced to three years in prison. He was charged with participating in protest marches last year, as well as being an administrator of the Smelye liudi (Brave people) Telegram channel. Mykhailo, a native of Donetsk, has lived in Belarus for nine years. He has been held in custody as a foreigner awaiting deportation in the Akrestsina detention center for seven months. In his concluding speech at the trial, the political prisoner spoke about the inhumane detention conditions during these months. However, instead of being sent back to his homeland, he was charged and transferred to a pre-trial detention center. At the same time, the seven months he had spent in the Akrestsina detention center were not deducted from his prison time. During the trial, the political prisoner pleaded not guilty and refused to testify.

Political prisoner Tsimur Hazizau, an activist of the Honest People initiative, was sentenced to two years in an open prison for taking part in a mass event and blocking a road on 4 October 2020. He was detained on 16 June 2021 during the performance of the “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” play.

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