Belarusian authorities introduce harsher penalties for protesting

Belarusian authorities introduce harsher penalties for protesting

Increased fines and sentences for participation in unauthorized events, illegal use and manufacture of flags and symbols, honking during protests and more.

A new Code of Administrative Offenses came into force in Belarus on 1 March 2021. The changes have affected the “political” articles, too, Belsat reports. The conversion of the currency as of 2 March 2021.

How long can people be arrested for?

As before, the maximum arrest is 15 days. But there is one exception. It is about the main “political” article. Now it is not 23.34, but 24.23, but the idea is the same: “violation of the order of organizing or holding mass events. If the offense is repeatedly committed within a year, the maximum fine rises from 100 [$1110] to 200 [$2220] basic units (from 150[$1660] to 200 [$2220] in the case of the organizers). The maximum arrest increases to 30 days.

Can they punish only with arrest and a fine?

No. A new type of punishment was introduced – community service. You can get it under political articles as well. They provide for free work in your spare time from your main job, service or training, aimed “at achieving socially useful goals.”

The term can be from 8 to 60 hours. You can work no more than 4 hours a day.

Is the article 23.4 still there?

Yes, disobedience to the lawful demand of an official is still there, but the number of the article was changed from 23.4 to 24.3. Belarusians who dared to participate in protests were also often punished for this. Maryia Kalesnikava’s lawyer Liudzmila Kazak was deprived of her license altogether because of the offense under this article. The maximum fine for disobeying a police officer or other official will increase to 100 basic units [$1110] (previously it was 50 [$555]). Getting community service and arrest is also possible.

How else can political protesters be punished?

Responsibility for insulting a public official on the Internet has been introduced: it can be punished with a fine of up to 200 basic units [$2220], community service, and administrative detention. Responsibility of website owners for dissemination of “extremist” information remains.

There is now liability for funding of the media by foreign legal entities, foreign nationals or stateless persons in cases where it is prohibited by law, as well as by anonymous. The punishment will be a fine of up to 50 basic units [$555]. They may seize the funds and even property.

A separate article 24.26 (“Illegal use and manufacture of flags and symbols”) can now be punished for flags. This is punishable by a fine of 5[$55] to 20 basic units [$220] (individual entrepreneurs – from 10 [$110] to 40 [$440], legal entities – from 20[$220] to 60 [$660]).

Parents will be fined for children’s participation in unauthorized demonstrations. For such a violation, a fine of 5 [$55] to 30 basic units [$330] is provided.

Car drivers

The punishment for blocking of roads has been toughened – the fine can be from 6 [$66] to 50 basic $555 (it was from 6 [$66] to 10 basic [$110]). The same fine was given for drivers for blocking roads in places of mass events or leading to the creation of an emergency situation (for this violation they can also deprive them of their rights from a year to two years). 

A driver who violates the rules for the use of sound signals can be punished with a fine of up to three basic (87 rubles [$33]), and if a signal is given in places of mass events, then the fine can be up to 10 basic [$110] with deprivation of rights for up to a year or without deprivation.

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