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Union leader Volha Brytsikava listed as “extremist”

Repressions against union leaders and representatives continue in Belarus. The security forces of Lukashenka’s regime have included Volha Brytsikava, the former leader of the BNP-affiliated workplace union at the Naftan oil refinery, in the list of “extremists”.

She was convicted on criminal charges for allegedly inciting social discord or animosity under Part 1 Article 130 of the RB CC. Her case was tried in camera.

The trial started on March 11, the Case was heard by Judge Halina Bondal. She found the union activist guilty and sentenced her to three years in a medium-security prison. 

On June 11, a judicial panel of the Supreme Court chaired by Judge Uladzimir Charavach examined Volha’s appeal and dismissed it, leaving the sentence unchanged.

The story of Brytsikava’s persecution began in May 2022 when she was released after 75 days of arrest. One of the reasons for her detention was her anti-war position. On November 01, 2022, she was detained again on administrative charges and sentenced to 15 days of arrest for the dissemination of “extremist materials”. On November 11, she was sentenced to another 15 days of arrest for “unauthorized picketing action” because of a picture with the slogan “NO TO WAR” posted in social media.

In August 2023, Brytsikava was detained again, this time for allegedly committing a crime under Part 1 Article 361 of the RB CC (“public calls for seizing State power or changing the Constitutional order of the Republic of Belarus through use of force or high treason”). However, in the course of investigation the charges were changed to the incitement of social discord.

The persecution of Volha Brytsikava demonstrates the harsh measures that Lukashenka’s regime is taking against its opponents. Listing activists and human rights defenders as “extremists” has become a tool for suppressing dissidence and fighting independent unions. The “extremists” lists contain 4190 names. Dozens of them are union activists and leaders.

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