former legal adviser at Naftan and Polymir oil refineries; sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment
Date of birth: 24 September 1978
Date of detention: 24 September 2021
Art. 295 of the Criminal Code — Unlawful acts against firearms, ammunition and explosives
Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code — Creation of an extremist formation, or participation in it
Art. 356 of the Criminal Code — High treason
Sentence: 15 years
Penalty: imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony
Judge: Aliaksandr Piskunou
Prison: Penal colony No. 15
Godparent: Kirsti Bergstø, Member of the Norwegian Parliament
Aliaksandr Kapshul is a former legal adviser at the Naftan and Polymir oil refineries. He is married and has two minor children.
On September 25, 2021, it became known that Kapshul was detained in Russia. He was travelling from Voronezh to Moscow intending to go to Warsaw, but on the train, the FSB officers checked his documents. He realized that he would be detained upon his arrival in Moscow, and jumped out of the train. Kapshul broke his leg and dislocated his arm, but was able to get to the Ukrainian border. When crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border legally, he was detained. The FSB officers took him to Belarus and handed him over to the KGB officers. In Belarus, he placed in the KGB remand prison.
Kapshul was charged with 'high treason' (Article 356 of the Criminal Code) in the case involving several employees of the Belarusian major enterprises who supported the local strikes and were members of the Rabochy Rukh labor rights group in 2020. That initiative was labeled as "extremist" on September 21, 2021.
He is also charged with Part 2 of Art. 295 ('Illegal actions related to firearms'), and Part 3 of Art. 361-1 ('Participation in an extremist formation') of the Criminal Code.
It is known that on May 24, 2022, his mother died, but they did not let him visit the funeral.
On November 9, 2022, the Homieĺ Regional Court began considering the case of of the Rabochy Rukh labor rights group, which involved ten political prisoners at once. On the second day of the trial, all the defendants refused to admit their guilt in treason and creation of an extremist formation. All the defendants refused to testify at the trial. From December 27, the court sessions were held behind closed doors until the verdict was passed, although before that it had been held in the open mode. The reason for that remained unknown.
It is known that on December 31, 2022, Aliaksandr Kapshul went on a hunger strike protesting against the violations in the pre-trial detention center in Homieĺ. For the first few days, the political prisoner did not even drink water. On February 10, 2023, he was placed in a punishment cell.
On February 17, 2023, the Homieĺ Regional Court delivered a verdict in the case of the Rabochy Rukh labor rights group. Judge Aliaksandr Piskunou found Aliaksandr Kapshul guilty under all of the above articles and sentenced him to 15 years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony and 200 base fines (approx. USD 2,620).
Aliaksandr Kapshul stopped the hunger strike on February 20, 2023. After 51 days without food, his health condition is assessed as satisfactory, but he has lost a lot of weight.
In April 2023, the political prisoner Aliaksandr Kapshul became one of the three finalists of the Global Advocacy Award, a prestigious international human rights award.