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Belarus: Band members detained over alleged participation in a protest

1 September 2021
Image: Irdorath band / Irdorath on Instagram

 

Five members of the band Irdorath remain detained since their arrest on 2 August 2021 and face charges for organising actions “that violate public order” in relation to their alleged participation in protests in August 2020. They were detained together with six other band members, reported Euro Radio.

The vocalist of the group Nadezhda Kalach’s private birthday celebration was stormed on 2 August 2021 and 16 people were arrested. 

Vladimir Aleksandrowitsch Kalach, Nadezhda Robertovna Kalach, Piotr Petrowitsch Marchenko, Yulya Anatolevna Marchenko, and Anton Valerjewitsch Shnip, are kept in custody and are facing charges punishable under Article 342 of the Criminal Code. The charges relate to accusations that in August 2020, the artists led protesters with musical instruments in an “unauthorised mass march”. According to the Belarusian Ministry of Interior, that action “strengthened the protest mood” amongst the participants and “pushed them to unlawful actions against the police”. If convicted, the artists face up to four years in prison.

According to Viasna, the other six band members, Maria Podolyak, Alexander Sinkevich, Dmitry Szymanski, Yevgeny Sretensky, Mikhail Arakcheev and Alexei Polovchenya, were sentenced on 3 August 2021 to 15 days of administrative arrest for “disobeying the police” under Article 24.3 of the Administrative Code, reportedly because they did not open the gate for the police officers. 

The prominent band Irdorath was established in 2011 and performs traditional Belarus folk music.

Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2021 report stated that due to participation in protests after the August 2020 elections in Belarus, many  artists and cultural workers had been  arrested,  fined, and  lost employment, whilst some were prompted to leave the country.

Freemuse research demonstrates the widespread use of administrative detentions for people from the cultural sphere under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences “violation of the organisation or holding of mass events”.

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