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posted May 2, 2006

Viasna Human Rights Center 

The following Statement was issued by the Viasna Human Rights Center, a partner in the Centers for Pluralism Network and a leader of the Belarusan civil society and democracy movement. Viasna and its director, Alas Bialacki, recently received two prominent human rights awards from European organizations, the Homo Homini Award of the People in Need in the Czech Republic and the Sakharov Award of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, in recognition for its persistent and longstanding work in defending human rights, promoting civil society, and working toward democratic change in Belarus. For more informaiton about the work of Viasna, see its English-language page of its web site: Its reports on human rights violations in Belarus are issued regularly. The report for February is linked here.

Viasna Human Rights Center Protests The Systematic Use of Criminal Prosecution by Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s Regime as a Means of Struggling Against Political Opponents and Opposition-Minded Persons

Viasna Human Rights Center 

Minsk, 18 April 2006


The Human Rights Center Viasna protests against the systematic use of criminal persecution by Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime as a means of struggle against political opponents and opposition-minded persons. We have to conclude that the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus has become a tool of political repressions. 

At present 10 persons are kept in custody for political reasons, about 20 are suspects and accused in criminal cases that were brought during and after the presidential campaign. Among the arrested there is the former candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Belarus, Aliaksandr Kazulin, along with the activist of A.Kazulin’s electoral headquarters, Iury Radzivil, the activists of the electoral headquarters of the former presidential candidate Aliaksandr Milinkevich, Siarhei Liashkevich and Mikalai Razumau, activists of the civic initiative "Partnership," Mikalai Astreika, Enira Branitskaia, Tsimafei Dranchuk and Aliaksandr Shalaika, and the activist of Zubr, Mikita Sasim, and the youth activist Artur Finkevich. 

The fate of the latter, youth activist Artur Finkevich, is a matter of special concern for Human Rights Center Viasna. Mr Finkevich has been kept in investigative isolation in Minsk since January 30, 2006. He was detained by the police for making political graffiti in Minsk. He is accused of violating two articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, specifically part 2 of article 339 (malignant hooliganism) and part 3 of article 218 (purposeful destruction or defilement of property). In the event he is found guilty of the latter article, he can be sentenced to 7-12 years of jail without possibility for conditional imprisonment. The materials of the criminal case have been already passed to court. The trial will take place within a month’s period. We consider that the arrest of Artur Finkevich has obvious political motivation and is connected to his public and political activity. 

Taking into consideration the gravity of the charges given to activists of public, political and youth movements, Human Rights Center Viasna urges:

            Citizens of Belarus: Express solidarity with political prisoners;

          •  Representatives of NGOs and political parties of Belarus: Use all possible mechanisms to prevent the imprisonment of Belarusian citizens on political accusations;

            Representatives of the international community: Use all possible mechanisms of international pressure on the Belarusian regime with the aim to prevent politically motivated lynching of the regime’s opponents in Belarus. 


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Eric Chenoweth and Irena Lasota, Directors