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Activist of independent union at BMZ faces harsher custodial conditions

On May 28, 2024, the court of Navapolatsk had a hearing on the imposition of harsher custodial conditions for Aliaksandr Gashnikau, an activist of the Belarusian Independent Union’s (BNP) workplace affiliate at the Belarusian Steel Works (BMZ) in the town of Zhlobin, says a report from human rights defenders.

The Judge Vitalyi Lapka appointed by Aliaksandr Lukashenka ruled to transfer Aliaksandr Gashnikau to prison. Now, he is to be incarcerated in Prison No. 4 in the town of Mahiliou. The human rights defenders are trying to find out the length of the political prisoner’s extended sentence.

Aliaksandr Gashnikau was a defendant of the “Rabochy Rukh” case who had sought to implement and defend workers’ right to strike. For this, he was accused under Part 1 Article 356 (high treason) and Part 3 Article 361-1 (creation of an extremist entity and participation therein) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

On February 14, 2023, Aliaksandr Gashnikau was sentenced to 14 years of reinforced custodial regimen. On August 11, 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of the Interior put him on the list of “persons engaging in extremist activity”.

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