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Belarus: Poet arrested for taking part in protests

12 November 2020
Image: Dmitry Strotsev / from PEN Belarus’ Facebook

 

21 October: Dmitry Strotsev (Dzmitry Strocaŭ), poet and member of the Union of Belarusian Writers and PEN Belarus, was detained and received a 13-day sentence for participating in protests against the presidential election results in Belarus, reported Belarusian PEN Centre.

The poet disappeared the day of his arrest, and only in the evening, his daughter announced in a Facebook post that his name was among the list of detainees in the Okrestina prison. In an interview for Nasha Niva, the poet shared details about his arrest, “I was walking home from Belarusbank, but a few steps from the entrance they put a bag on my head, loaded me into a minibus and, as I later realized, took me to the KGB on Komsomolskaya Street”.

Strotsev stated he was presented with a video clip showing him in the 4 October protest, after which he signed a protocol confirming his participation in the event. He claimed he was not beaten during his detention, gave information for the investigators, but was not intimidated by their attempts of finding “puppeteers and organizers” of the rallies.  

Strotsev is an activist, well-known poet, and the head of the literary project “Minsk school” – having often touched upon political events in Belarus in his work. Along with philosopher Olga Shparaga, whose arrest Freemuse covered previously, Dmitry Strotsev joins the over 200 political prisoners since May 2020.

The state of artistic freedom in Belarus is increasingly concerning – with Freemuse reporting dozens of arrests of artists and activists both before and after the recent election.

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