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Belarus: philosopher detained for participating in re-election protests

5 November 2020
Image: Illustration of Olga Shparaga / Courtesy of artist Ania Redko

 

9 October: Philosopher and professor Olga Shparaga and her husband Alexander Adamiants, Director of the European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus, were detained on 4 October at a peaceful protest against Lukashenko’s regime, as reported by IMW.

Olga Shparaga is a longstanding activist for the strengthening of Belarusian civil society, and she has been an active campaigner for higher education reforms in the country.

With the help from her lawyer and of PEN Belarus, of which she is a member, Shparaga was released in the following day. However, she was again detained on 9 October and summoned to the District Department of Internal Affairs for a “conversation”. Shparaga remained in custody until Monday 12 October, when she received a 15-day sentence for administrative arrest on the charges of participating in an “unauthorised protest”.

Olga Shparaga is a member of the opposition Coordinating Council, which was initiated by exiled presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya with the objective of facilitating a peaceful and orderly transfer of power in Belarus. She is not the only member of the Coordinating Council who was detained among the protests, which gather more than 200 political prisoners since early May 2020.

PEN America’s Eurasia program director, Polina Sadovskaya commented Shparaga’s arrest saying: “Shparaga’s detention on Friday was no coincidence, as she was supposed to be coordinating and attending a women’s demonstration the following day.”

Freemuse raised concerns on degrading state of artistic freedom in the wake of presidential elections in Belarus. Artistic freedom has been caught in the crossfires of this increasingly oppressive regime and violent response, with Freemuse research indicating dozens of arrests of artists and activists both in the lead up to and after the recent election. 

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