Social Media Activists Sentenced to Prison

Only weeks before the Parliamentary election on 23 September, the Belarusian Police conducted a countrywide crackdown on online dissent – arresting several opposition social media activists. Two young Internet activists were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to prison.

Two young Internet activists were found guilty of hooliganism charges, on Friday 31 August, and sentenced to prison, Belarusian human rights organisations report. One of them, Pavel Yeutsikhiyeu, the moderator of “We’re Fed up with this Lukashenka,” was sentenced to five days in prison. The other one, Andrey Tkachou, the administrator of “Only Shos!, an anti-Lukashenka group will be incarcerated for seven days.

Others have been reportedly beaten by KGB agents and released without charges.

“The Belarusian regime is gradually limiting freedom of expression. It is yet again trying to restrict critical voices on the internet, having in mind the so called silent protests in 2011, which spread via social media”, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Civil Rights Defenders.

The activists used pseudonyms and were administrators of online communities, such as “Lyapis Trubetskoy – Free Concert in Minsk” and “We are fed up with this Lukashenka” on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook.