What charges are brought against human rights activist Nasta Loika?

Human Constanta
24 February 2023

Recently, information surfaced about the second article under which the human rights activist Nasta Loika was charged.

As it was reported earlier, the first article under which Nasta is accused is Article 342.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus – “organization of group actions that grossly violate public order and involve manifest disobedience to the legitimate demands of government officials or cause disruption of transport, enterprises, institutions or organizations, or active participation in such actions in the absence of signs of a more serious crime.”

The second article was Article 130.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus – “incitement of racial, national, religious, or other social enmity or discord.” The basis for the latter accusation was Nasta’s alleged participation in writing a report on the persecution of the anarchist community in Belarus in 2018. The report gives a critical assessment of the police officers’ actions, which the investigators in the case of Nasta recognized to be “incitement of hostility” to a professional group of police officers.

We believe that the attempt to accuse Nasta under this article is another proof that Nasta was placed behind bars solely for her human rights activism.

We remind you that Belarusian law enforcement officers arrested and detained Nasta near the Minsk City Court building premises on 6 September 2022. Nasta was attending a court hearing on the “Revolutionary Action” group case, which resulted in sentencing activists and human rights defenders, including Marfa Rabkova, to terms of 5 to 17 years of imprisonment. According to the witnesses, simultaneously with Nasta’s detention, relatives of political prisoners, sentenced to imprisonment, as well as diplomatic personnel, attending the trial, were detained. On 7 September 2022, Nasta was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest, on “petty hooliganism” charges under Article 19.1 of the Code of Administrative Offences.

On 22 September 2022, the Frunze District Court in Minsk sentenced Nasta to another 15 days of administrative arrest on “petty hooliganism” charges, under the same article. Nasta was not present in courtroom as the hearing was held online. She did not have access to her lawyer, as the court denied the motion to invite her attorney. Nasta was unable to receive any medication, warm clothes, or hygiene essentials idue to the transfer services interruption at the Okrestina Detention Center. On 6 October 2022, she was released from jail.

On 28 October 2022, three weeks after Nasta was released from detention after serving two consecutive sentences, she was arrested for the third time. On the day of her arrest, a “forced confession video” appeared showing Nasta in handcuffs giving unofficial testimony about her engagement in human rights work, including her work with Human Constanta. The location and the source of this video are not clear. The video was circulated on a Telegram channel along with other discrediting information, in what appears to be a smear campaign aimed at vilifying Nasta for her human rights work.

On 31 October 2022, Nasta was sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest, and, on 14 November 2022, she was sentenced to another 15 days of administrative arrest on charges of “petty hooliganism” under article 19.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus. Her sanctioning was grounded in unsubstantiated allegations concerning Nasta’s behaviors during detention, which was considered by the court to be “in breach of public order” and “showing disrespect to the society.” The motions of the defense were not satisfied during the hearing.

On 29 November 2022 and 14 December 2022, Nasta was once again sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest on “petty hooliganism” charges. After serving a total of 5 consecutive administrative sentences since 28 October 2022, on 24 December 2023 she was charged with criminal offenses under two articles mentioned above.

Nasta Loika was recognized as a political prisoner. In total, she has been behind bars for 145 days.

Human Constanta continues to call on international organizations to express their public position and assessment regarding the arbitrary detention and violation of Nasta Loika’s rights, as well as the persecution of other Belarusian human rights defenders and human rights organizations.

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