Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Yauheni Rubashko
Yauheni Rubashko, known to his friends as “Zhenya”, was detained in Minsk on 29 July 2021. His apartment was searched and he was beaten at the time. He was subsequently transferred to the pre-trial detention centre and charged with “group actions grossly violating public order”. Yauheni is one of three anarchists, together with Aliaksandar Bialou and Artyom Salavey, who are accused of participating in the “extremist formation” Pramen, a well-known anarchist group in Belarus. They are facing up to six years in prison.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Anastasya Mirontsava
Anastasya Mirontsava is a 25-year-old student and artist. She has been behind bars since 16 October 2020, when she was detained for having participated in the protests on the day of the presidential election, 10 August 2020. At her trial on 31 March 2021, she implored the court not to deprive her of her freedom any longer.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Rastsislau Stefanovich
Rastsislau Stefanovich is a 33-year-old designer and architect. He is married to Christina, with whom he has two children Nicole, who is eight, and Mark, who is six. As well as being an artist (see his drawings below), he is also a defender with the Minsk Zubrs American football team. In August 2020, he became a member of the expanded Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power, which was set up on the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to facilitate the democratic transfer of power in Belarus. There are about 5500 members of the expanded Coordination Council.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Maria Kalenik
Maria Kalenik is a 23-year-old student of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She was detained on 12 November 2020, accused of organising and participating in group actions that gravely violate public order. 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. Ksenia Syramalot, whose letter was previously published, was one of her co-defendants in the case.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Seviarynets
Pavel Seviarynets is a writer, an opposition politician, co-founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party. He was detained on 7 June 2020 and held in pre-trial detention for several months before being charged with organising mass riots. In May 2021, he was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony. He is serving his sentence in Shklov in eastern Belarus.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Mazko
Pavel Mazko is a 19-year-old from Brest in south-western Belarus. He has been in pre-trial detention since 23 March 2021, charged in connection to his participation in the post-election protests in August 2020.
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.