Belarus dissident rock band sentenced to 2 years correctional labour News
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Belarus dissident rock band sentenced to 2 years correctional labour

A district court in Minsk sentenced a dissident Belarusian rock band to two and a half years of correctional labour on Friday after the members were convicted of active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order, according to human rights group Mayday Team. The band has been behind bars since their arrest in January.

The three members of the band, Nizkiz, were convicted under Article 342 of the Criminal Code in a trial that began on March 19. Under this article, Judge Alena Zhivitsa convicted Alyaksandr Ilyin, Siarhei Kulsha and Dzmitry Khalyaukin in the Kastrychnytsky district court of Minsk for their alleged participation in anti-government protests in 2020. On top of their sentence of two and half years of correctional labour, the three individuals were also added to the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs’ list of extremists.

The members of Nizkiz have faced opposition from Belarusian authorities since 2020, when protests erupted in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko secured his sixth term in office. Authorities under Lukashenko used violence against protestors in response and arrested thousands of individuals for their actions. Nizkiz released a song titled “Rules,” which was used by protestors to oppose Lukashenko’s government and dispute the election. The band also filmed a music video at one of the demonstrations.

Ilyin, Kulsha and Khalyaukin were arrested for their participation in these protests in January 2024, after which a criminal case was opened against them and they were transferred to a pre-trial detention center. They remained there until the conclusion of their trial. Belarusian human rights organizations declared the individuals political prisoners in February 2024.

Under Lukashenko’s government, those who oppose him have face widespread oppression in Belarus. Human rights organization Viasna estimates there are currently 1,387 political prisoners in Belarus, including bloggers, businessmen, activists for other presidential candidates and protesters. The majority of these prisoners were detained following the disputed elections in 2020.