Trials Begin of Writers and Journalists Detained Since December
Trials have begun against Belarusian writers and journalists who were detained following demonstrations against the results of the flawed presidential election of December 19, 2010. PEN International renews its calls for the dismissal of these politically-motivated criminal cases, the release of all writers in prison, and an end to their harassment.
Vladimir Neklyaev is a writer, poet, former president of the Belarus PEN Center, and the opposition Tell the Truth party's candidate in the 2010 presidential elections. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and held for a month in a KGB detention center, during which time he was severely beaten and denied adequate medical services (in Belarus the security services are still called the KGB). Although the charges against him have been downgraded from "organization of mass riots" to "preparation of activities designed to disturb the public order," Neklyaev still faces up to three years in prison if convicted. His trial is due to start on May 5, 2011.
Irina Khalip is a journalist for the Russian Novaya Gazeta and wife of opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov (still in detention). On December 19, 2010, she was arrested and severely beaten by the police. She was held in isolation by the KGB for one month and charged with "organizing and participating in mass disorder." Like Neklyaev, she was placed under strict house arrest in January 2011. Her house arrest is due to end on May 13, 2011; however, as yet no date has been set for her trial. She has been denied access to the Internet, telephone, and newspapers. Shortly after her arrest, the authorities attempted to take her son from the family and place him in state custody.
Natalia Radzina is a journalist for the pro-democracy news web site Charter 97. She was arrested alongside all the staff and volunteers at the web site on December 19, 2010, and charged with "organizing and participating in mass disorder." On March 31, 2011, she was summoned to the State Security Committee to take part in investigative actions related to her case. Radzina is believed to have fled the country.
Pavel Severinets is an opposition activist, author of several books, and a member of Belarus PEN. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and charged under Article 293 of the Criminal Code of Belarus ("Organization of riots"). As of April 26, 2011, he remains under arrest although it is not clear if the charges against him have been changed.
Aleksandr Fiaduta is an author, literary critic, and member of Belarus PEN, as well as a member of the Tell the Truth party. He was arrested on December 19, 2010, and was charged with "organization of riots." As with Neklyaev, the charges against him have subsequently been downgraded to "preparation of activities that break public order"; however, he still faces up to three years in prison if convicted. His trial is due to start on May 5, 2011.
Dimitri Bondarenko is a journalist at Charter 97. He has been charged with “preparation of activities that break public order” and his trial began on April 24, 2011. He has reportedly admitted to participation in the demonstrations in December, but has denied the other charges brought against him.
Write A Letter
- Calling for the lifting of the severe restrictions placed on the activities of Vladimir Neklyaev, Natalia Radina, Irina Khalip, Pavel Severinets, Aleksandr Fiaduta, and Dimitri Bondarenko;
- Condemning the arrest and ill-treatment of human rights activists and journalists;
- Calling for an end to the persecution of press and media outlets by the Belarusian authorities;
- Urging that all journalists and human rights activists be freed immediately and for the dismissal of politically-motivated criminal cases.
Send Your Letter To
President of the Republic of Belarus
Alyaksandr G. Lukashenko
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or
+375 172 22 38 72
Via web site:
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Belarus in your country if possible.
PLEASE ALSO SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
Some of these writers and journalists are not receiving mail, but messages of support for all six of them and their families can be sent to our sister PEN Center in Belarus:
Post box 218, 220050
(messages will be passed on to the families)
Messages to the following detainees can be sent to the same prison address at:
Post box 8, 220050
Севярынец Павел Канстанцінавіч
Фядута Аляксандр Іосіфавіч
Бандарэнка Дзмітры Яўгеньевіч