Sergei Tikhanovsky’s term of detention was extended for three months. He will stay behind bars at least until the end of February 2021, said his lawyer Natalya Matskevich.
Just on the eve of the expiration of Sergei Tikhanovsky’s term of his arrest on previous charges he was charged with inciting social hatred. The popular vlogger and pro-democracy activist has been in a pre-trial detention center for six months now, and he should have either been released or his case forwarded to trial.
However, the political prisoner was newly charged, now he can be held in custody for up to 18 months. Lawyer Viktor Matskevich visited Sergei in a detention center last week, and said that he is extremely outraged by the new accusation. The defenders did not disclose the details of the case: they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Sergei Tikhanovsky was charged under three articles of the Criminal Code:
- organization of group actions that grossly violate public order (part 1 of article 342 of the Criminal Code is punishable by a fine, or arrest, or restriction of liberty of liberty for up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term). On 29 May, Tikhanovsky was arrested in Grodno while collecting signatures for Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s presidential candidacy;
- obstruction to the work of the Central Election Commission (Article 191 of the Criminal Code, punishable by community service, or a fine, or correctional labor for a term of up to two years, or restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, or imprisonment for the same term). Lydia Yermoshina told the media that she was recognized as a victim and stated that “Tikhanovsky is dangerous for the state and society”.;
- incitement to racial, national, religious or other social hatred or discord, committed by a group of persons or entailing the death of a person by negligence or other grave consequences (part 3 of article 130 of the Criminal Code, punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to twelve years).
Tikhanovsky has been held in Zhodino detention center for the fourth month, before that he was in pre-trial detention center No. 1 in Minsk, where he was in the punishment cell and lost a lot of weight. According to the defenders, conditions of detention in Zhodino are better.
“Sergei is alone in a cell, this is an agreement with the management so that there are no provocations. Whom does he see? Employees who check him in the morning and in the evening, lawyers who come twice a week. They take him out for a walk, but he is alone there too. He has a TV set, and one newspaper comes by subscription.
Despite limited contacts with the outside world, he very adequately perceives everything that happens outside the walls of the prison, he is aware of all the news, including what his wife is doing. I must say that he receives letters, including from strangers, he is very inspired that they do not forget about him,” explained lawyer Natalya Matskevich.
Article 127 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Belarus states that an extension of the term of detention for more than six months is allowed only in relation to persons accused of committing serious or particularly serious crimes. Sergei Tikhanovsky was recognized as a political prisoner.
On 10 October, Tikhanovsky and fellow candidate Viktor Babariko took part in a a four-hour meeting with Lukashenko concerning changes to the Constitution. At this time, Tikhanovsky and Babariko remain in custody. Soon after the meeting, he was allowed to call his wife Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and told her that as far as he understood he wouldn’t be released soon.
Earlier, Tikhanovsky was going to run for president of Belarus, but was unable to register an initiative group for his nomination as a candidate. His wife Svetlana managed to do this, she subsequently participated in the election campaign as a candidate. After the 9 August elections, in which, according to the Central Election Commission of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko won for the sixth time, Tikhanovskaya left for Lithuania, from where she continues her political activities.
The opposition considers Tikhanovskaya to be the winner of the elections and the national leader.