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Criminal charges brought against Leanid Sudalenka in his absence

A criminal case has been opened against Leanid Sudalenka, a former political prisoner and now the legal officer of Salidarnast, in his absence. On March 4, 2024, this was announced by the Investigative Committee of Belarus on March 4, 2024, on its Telegram channel “Special Proceedings. Official Information”. He is charged under Article 361-4 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (aiding extremist activities).

The reason for this new act of political persecution is yet unknown. The human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka gave his comments to “Viasna” on the new criminal case against him:

“I’ve no doubt that this way the Belarusian secret services are trying to make sure I keep my mouth shut, because after my release I did not give up and was never silent. I spoke publicly in the European Parliament as a witness of torture in Belarusian prisons. I publicly exposed the conditions faced by incarcerated political prisoners in Belarus, speaking to various media outlets in France, Poland, Germany, Finland, and not only there. There wasn’t a single independent media outlet I would refuse to talk to about the three years of imprisonment I had to go through.

Just three months after I was released, the secret services started a new criminal case against me, charging me under two parts of the CC Article on Extremism which entail a maximum of six years in the slammer. Probably, their next step would be to deprive me of my Belarusian citizenship that I am entitled to from birth. And then… well, apparently, they shall start another special criminal procedure against me seeking to legally negate the very fact of my birth as the country lives now through the fourth year of undeclared martial law. By the way, today, the “Guarantor of the Constitution” signed a Decree on the state authorities’ operations under conditions of war...

In the short term, those who have usurped the power in Belarus can afford this kind of arbitrary lawlessness. Yet, when the Rule of Constitutional Law returns to the country, all this, understandably, won’t be worth even the paper they use to doodle up a case against me in their investigative committees. I have but one concern: this short-term thing drags on and on. Even when I was thrown in jail, I didn’t think I would have to serve the whole term. This short-term madness seems to protract itself, and this is what worries me now. Otherwise, I give my thanks to the secret services for making yet another note of my merits. I would continue my work for and on behalf of new Belarus!"

We shall remind you that in November 2021 Leanid was sentenced to three years in prison and he served his term in full. Two weeks after his release, he left Belarus and resumed his advocacy activities beyond its borders. And now, three months after his release, they initiated a new criminal case against him.

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