Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Andrei Aliaksandrau
Andrei Aliaksandrau is a journalist and human rights defender. He had been a media manager and deputy director of the Belarusian Private News Agency (BelaPAN) prior to his detention. In the 2010s, he lived and worked in the UK where he studied media management at the University of Westminster, before taking on roles at Index on Censorship and Article 19. Andrei was detained on 12 January 2021 alongside his partner, Irina Zlobina. He is being accused of financing the protests in Minsk by paying fines and reimbursing the costs for detention in temporary detention facilities for those detained during protests in Minsk. He has since been charged with high treason and, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison. He remains in pre-trial detention.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Hanna Vishniak
Hanna Vishniak is a volunteer with Telegram channel “Drivers-97”. The channel, which has 5,000 subscribers, was initially set up to facilitate communication that would help bring people and resources where they were needed. Hanna was detained on 28 October 2020 and held in pre-trial detention in Minsk. On 4 June 2021, she was convicted of “organising and preparing activities that grossly violate public order” and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. She was then taken to a “correctional colony” in Gomel in south-eastern Belarus.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Ihnat Sidorchyk
Ihnat Sidorchyk is a film director, actor and poet. He was detained on 10 August 2020 and initially charged with “organisation of mass riots” for having called on friends to meet in central Minsk on 9 August (the day of the presidential election) via a Telegram chat. In February 2021, Ihnat was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary (so-called “khimiya”), finding him guilty of “group actions that grossly violate public order”. Ihnat was released to await an appeal hearing, but he was re-arrested in June 2021 to begin serving his sentence.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Katsyaryna Andreeva
Katsyaryna Andreeva is a journalist for the independent media outlet Belsat, who has been detained since November 2020. In the months before her arrest, she had been covering the nationwide protests that surrounded the August presidential election.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Danila Hancharou
Danila Hancharou is a lighting designer who had previously been employed at the New Drama Theater in Minsk. On 15 March, his apartment was searched, and he was detained for having held a one-person picket. Having been sentenced to 15 days in prison, he was due to be released on 30 March. But on 26 March, he was taken for interrogation and charged with the “organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order.” He was subsequently transferred to a pre-trial detention centre. On 9 July 2021, he was put on trial and sentenced to two years in prison. He remains imprisoned in “correctional facility” #17 (IK-17) in Shklow in the Mogliev region of Belarus.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Ksenia Syramalot
Ksenia Syramalot is a 21-year-old student at the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Belarusian State University. She was the spokesperson for the Belarusian Students’ Association and a volunteer at the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. On 23 November 2020, she was detained for “organising or participating in group actions that gravely breach public order” under Art. 342 part 1 of the Criminal Code. Her apartment was searched, and she was held in the KGB pre-trial prison. On 16 July 2021, she was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in a case known as “the student case”, which involved 12 defendants.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Elena Talkacheva
Elena Talkacheva is a journalist and was a business reporter for the independent news website, Tut.by. She was detained alongside 14 of her colleagues on 18 May 2021 in the framework of a criminal case initiated against Tut.by for tax evasion.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Levon Khalatrian
Levon Khalatrian worked as a bar manager and was a volunteer with [opposition politician] Viktar Babaryka’s campaign in the lead-up to the presidential election on 9 August 2020. He was detained two days after the election, on 11 August 2020, and was reported to have been badly beaten at the time. He remained in pre-trial detention for 6 months.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Marfa Rabkova
Marfa Rabkova is a human rights defender and a coordination of the volunteer service at the Human Rights Centre Viasna. She took part in the campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”, which saw over 1,500 observers register for election monitoring during the 2020 presidential election. Rabkova was detained on 17 September 2020.