Prolonged solitary confinement for Belarusian musician convicted of “insulting the police”

MINSK – Famous Belarusian punk rock musician Ihar Bantser, who has been in solitary confinement in a so-called prison open for almost two weeks, will spend another 10 days in solitary confinement for unspecified reasons.

Bantser was sentenced in March to 18 months in open prison for allegedly publicly insulting police by exposing private parts of his body during an anti-government rally. The sentence means he lives under strict restrictions in a special dormitory and works in an industrial facility chosen by the state prison service.

He was placed in solitary confinement on November 25 for recording a video for the online newspaper Meduza, showing the conditions in the open prison.

His relatives said on December 7 that they had not been informed of the reasons why the solitary term had been extended.

They also accused the open prison administration of intentionally pressuring punk band frontman Mister X, who refused to sign a letter demanding clemency from strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who runs the country of an iron fist since 1994.

In total, Bantser has spent 70 days in solitary confinement since August.

Belarus has seen more than a year of unprecedented rallies and protest actions after Lukashenka was declared the winner of the August 9, 2020 election by a landslide amid allegations of widespread fraud.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested, hundreds beaten, several killed and journalists targeted in government repression.

Lukashenka and senior officials have been sanctioned by the West, which refuses to recognize him as the legitimate ruler of the former Soviet republic.

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