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  • Political prisoner and blogger Ihar Losik celebrates his third birthday behind bars

    Today marks the 32nd birth­day of Ihar Losik, who has been incar­cer­at­ed for almost four years. He is cur­rent­ly serv­ing a 15-year sen­tence at the Navap­o­latsk Cor­rec­tion­al Facil­i­ty No. 1. This is the longest sen­tence for Belaru­sian inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists and blog­gers.

    Ігар Лосік палітзняволены журналіст

    Ihar Losik

    On June 25, 2010, Ihar Losik, a con­sul­tant for the RFE/RL Belarus and admin­is­tra­tor of a protest Telegram chan­nel, was arrest­ed fol­low­ing a search of his res­i­dence in Baranavichy. On the same evening, it was announced that a crim­i­nal case had been opened against him for orga­niz­ing and prepar­ing actions that gross­ly vio­lat­ed pub­lic order.

    The Belaru­sian human rights com­mu­ni­ty rec­og­nized Ihar Losik as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er.

    Ihar Losik was trans­ferred sev­er­al times to dif­fer­ent places of deten­tion while the inves­ti­ga­tion also charged him with orga­niz­ing mass riots. In protest against the charges, Losik went on a hunger strike for sev­er­al months, sup­port­ed by his wife, Daria Losik, as a sign of sol­i­dar­i­ty.

    The crim­i­nal case against the jour­nal­ist and blog­ger was con­sol­i­dat­ed with the so-called «Siarhei Tsikhanous­ki case.» All the accused were sen­tenced on Decem­ber 14, 2021.

    Ihar Losik was found guilty of orga­niz­ing mass riots and incit­ing hos­til­i­ty or enmi­ty. The sen­tence was hand­ed down by Mikalai Dolia, a judge of the Homel Region­al Court. The appeal process was unsuc­cess­ful.

    In June 2022, Ihar Losik was trans­ferred to Navap­o­latsk penal cor­rec­tion­al facil­i­ty No. 1, which is the most pol­lut­ed and the most severe in terms of secu­ri­ty. Sev­er­al oth­er polit­i­cal pris­on­ers are cur­rent­ly serv­ing their sen­tences there, includ­ing Andrei Kuznechyk, Andrei Ali­ak­san­drau, and Andrzej Poc­zobut.

    In a deci­sion dat­ed June 28, 2022, the KGB includ­ed Ihar Losik on a list of indi­vid­u­als «involved in ter­ror­ist activ­i­ties.» This des­ig­na­tion has sig­nif­i­cant­ly lim­it­ed his rights and priv­i­leges while incar­cer­at­ed. Nei­ther his rel­a­tives nor the pub­lic have been able to ascer­tain his health sta­tus for over a year. His par­ents received the last let­ter from prison in Feb­ru­ary 2023. Vis­its and the send­ing of com­mis­sary mon­ey to the impris­oned jour­nal­ist are pro­hib­it­ed. Losik is unable to pur­chase items from the prison store due to the deple­tion of funds from his account, which is believed to have been used to pay a fine.

    In July 2022, the Losik fam­i­ly’s prop­er­ty was con­fis­cat­ed to enforce the sen­tence, which requires the par­tic­i­pants in the «Tsikhanous­ki case» to pay 22 mil­lion Belaru­sian rubles in com­pen­sa­tion. The funds will be allo­cat­ed to remu­ner­ate Inte­ri­or Min­istry offi­cers for over­time incurred dur­ing the post-elec­tion protests.

    Ihar Losik was also reg­is­tered as a non-pay­er of alimo­ny for his daugh­ter Pali­na. The girl is cur­rent­ly being cared for by the couple’s par­ents. Daria Losik was also arrest­ed on Octo­ber 18, 2022, and in Jan­u­ary 2023 she was sen­tenced to two years’ impris­on­ment for “par­tic­i­pa­tion in extrem­ist activ­i­ties.” The pros­e­cu­tion was based on Dari­a’s com­men­tary on the Bel­sat TV chan­nel, which the author­i­ties have iden­ti­fied as an «extrem­ist for­ma­tion.» Accord­ing to the court files, in a con­ver­sa­tion with the chan­nel’s jour­nal­ist, the woman iden­ti­fied her­self as the wife of a polit­i­cal pris­on­er. At the same time, she stat­ed that her hus­band had not com­mit­ted any crim­i­nal acts and had been sen­tenced ille­gal­ly.

    For those of us on the out­side, it is chal­leng­ing to com­pre­hend the emo­tion­al state of a 32-year-old man who has been incar­cer­at­ed for almost four years. The jour­nal­ist has been iso­lat­ed from the out­side world, deprived of infor­ma­tion about his fam­i­ly, and unable to receive nec­es­sary items, includ­ing med­i­cine or even kind words.

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