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Leanid Sudalenka released after serving jail term in full

(July 21, 2023)


Human rights defender and Viasna member, Leanid Sudalenka, was released from Viciebsk penal colony No. 3 on July 21, having completed his sentence. Sudalenka was convicted on November 3, 2021, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment under parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (“organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, and training and preparation of individuals to participate in such actions, as well as their financing or other material provision of such actions). Sudalenka has been held behind bars for two and a half years.

Leanid Sudalenka, a Homieĺ-based human rights defender, served citizens for more than 20 years, assisting them in restoring their violated rights. He has played a crucial role in preparing and submitting numerous individual applications to the UN Human Rights Committee against Belarus.

Throughout 2020, Sudalenka provided legal aid for appealing court decisions regarding participation in unsanctioned rallies taking place in Homieĺ after the presidential election.

On January 5, 2021, a search was conducted in the community center where the office of Homieĺ Viasna was located, lasting more than 9.5 hours. Following the search and interrogation, Sudalenka was released but re-arrested two weeks later and taken into custody.

The trial against the human rights defender, alongside volunteers Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka, began on November 3, 2021, at the court of the Centraĺny District of Homieĺ. The trial was held behind closed doors.

Sudalenka’s letters described the accusations against him, including

  • providing firewood to a large family whose father was convicted for “riots”,
  • explaining what public protests were in a YouTube video posted by blogger Andrei Pavuk,
  • calling on social networks to meet Homieĺ resident Maryia Tulzhankova near the detention center where she spent 15 days,
  • conducting a workshop on digital security for human rights defenders,
  • and paying fines, and court fees, and providing lawyer assistance.

Over 200 witnesses were questioned in the case, and the materials comprised more than 77 volumes.

On November 3, 2021, Sudalenka was sentenced to three years of deprivation of freedom in a general-security penal colony, the same sentence as Tatsiana Lasitsa. Maryia Tarasenka, who was sentenced to two and a half years in a colony, was forced to leave Belarus.

In the winter of 2022, Sudalenka was sent to serve his term in Penal Colony No. 3, where he worked at a sawmill and wire disassembly. On September 24, 2022, Tatsiana Lasitsa was released from the penal colony on parole after spending 20 months behind bars.

In October 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs added the political prisoner to the List of “persons involved in extremist activities.”

For his human rights work, Sudalenka was awarded the National Prize for Achievements in the Field of Human Rights in the category “Human Rights Defender of the Year” by the Belarusian human rights community.

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