Belarus must end its policy of preventive detention

15/10/2014
Press release
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FIDH and HRC “Viasna” (Spring) express their concerns about the unlawful acts by the authorities of Belarus aimed at Pavel Vinogradov, an opposition activist.

On 9 October 2014, on the eve of the CIS summit and the visit to Minsk by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Pavel Vinogradov was subjected to yet another arbitrary arrest and detention for a period of 15 days. The grounds cited by the court when announcing the decision to arrest Mr. Vinogradov included testimony by police officers alleging “hooliganistic actions” (disruptive and/or unlawful behavior) by the detainee.

It should be noted that this is not the first time Pavel Vinogradov is subjected to an arbitrary arrest and detention by the law enforcement authorities of Belarus. On numerous prior occasions, Pavel was arrested and detained prior to other civic or political events expected to take place in the country. To date this year, he has spent a total of 50 days in detention. Additionally, after his release in September 2011 from the penal colony in the town of Ivatsevichi, where he served a sentence for taking part in a protest action following the presidential election of 19 December 2010, Pavel has beensubjectedto “preventive monitoring” for over two years.

According to Pavel Vinogradov, he is constantly threatened with criminal prosecution and violence. This harassment is part of the government’s efforts to silence him, make him abandon his peaceful protest activities and leave Minsk for the remaining duration of the preventive monitoring period. Prior to the 2014 IIHF World Championship that took place in Minsk last May, and facing similar threats by the officers of the Moskovsky District Department of the Interior in Minsk, Pavel was forced to leave the capital and relocate to the village of Berezino. Information about this incident was included in the joint report by FIDН and HRC “Viasna” on the issue of arbitrary detentions in Belarus.
It should be noted that the use of arbitrary detention of opposition activists by Belarus’s authorities is regular and systemic.

In this regard, FIDH and HRC “Viasna” declare the following:

  • The actions taken by the government of Belarus against Pavel Vinogradov are unlawful and politically motivated. Their intended purpose is to force Mr. Vinogradov to abandon or scale down his public activities;
  • Pavel Vinogradov was subjected once again to imprisonment (15-day administrative detention) for his political views and no other reason;
  • The above-mentioned information is enough to qualify Pavel Vinogradov as a political prisoner for as long as his detention continues.

In this regard, FIDH and HRC “Viasna” demand that:

  • Pavel Vinogradov be immediately released and that all the unlawful court decisions made against him be overturned;
  • The practice of arbitrary detention and exerting other types of pressure on Pavel Vinogradov and other opposition activists and public figures be abolished;
  • All political prisoners in Belarus be released from jails and penal colonies;
  • Any and all persecution of dissenters be done away with as a key prerequisite for normalizing the human rights situation in that country.
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