Former political prisoner brutally detained in Minsk

Zmitser Paliyenka, a Belarusian anarchist and former political prisoner, was arrested in Minsk on Wednesday morning. He is suspected of committing a crime under Article 339-3 of the Criminal Code (malicious hooliganism).

“At about 10 am, persons armed with with guns broke into his flat, they were wearing bullet-proof vests and masks. They stroke Zmitser down to the floor and handcuffed him. Then they smashed down the door to the next room and started conducting a search. They said a new criminal case had been initiated against Zmitser,” his friend Nastassya Huseva told the human rights centre Viasna.

According to them, the case is related to the incident that happened in mid March.

“About a week ago, Zmitser was waiting for his friend on the stairway landing; and a drunken and aggressive man was trying to pick a fight with him. He just did not like zmitser’s standing there. The man repeatedly insulted Zmitser and punched him in the face. Then Zmitser used a pepper-spray ball,” the girl said.

During the search, computer equipment, a mobile phone, books and leaflets were seized. Paliyenka was taken to a police station; then he may be transferred to the Investigative Committee.

Former political prisoner fined over ‘Class War’ photo on web

In October 2016, Paliyenka was given a suspended sentence of 2 years for allegedly attacking a policeman during the bicycle campaign “Critical Mass”, which took place in Minsk. In addition, the activist was charged with committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 343 of the Criminal Code (production and distribution of pornographic materials or items of a pornographic nature).

In 2017, Paliyenka was arrested again: on April 7, the court overturned the deferment and sent the activist to serve the remainder of his term in a prison in Babruisk. There he was regularly placed in a punishment cell, the administration also pressured the activist psychologically.

The international human rights organization Amnesty International recognized Paliyenka a prisoner of conscience.