human rights activist, chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", sentenced to 3 years in prison
Date of birth: 23 September 1966
Date of detention: 18 January 2021
Art. 342 of the Criminal Code — Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them
Sentence: 3 years
Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony
Judge: Siarhei Salouski
Prosecutor: Yauhen Fartushniak, Kiryl Vyshniakou
Prison: Penal colony No. 3
Godparent: Konstantin von Notz, member of the German Bundestag
Leanid Sudalenka is a human rights activist and chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the Human Rights Center "Viasna".
Leanid Sudalenka has been defending human rights for 20 years. He has provided free legal assistance, including by preparing individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Belarusian nationals whose rights were violated by the government. For his human rights work, he was awarded the prestigious prize of the French Republic “Freedom-Equality-Brotherhood” in 2018. In 2019, he became the winner of the National Human Rights Prize in the nomination “Human Rights Defender of the Year”.
In 2020, Leanid Sudalenka provided legal assistance in appealing against court rulings issued for participating in peaceful assemblies that took place in Homieĺ after the presidential election of August 9.
Sudalenka was detained on January 18, 2021 as part of a criminal case under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization or active participation in group actions which gravely breach public order) and was remanded in a detention center.
On January 21, he was transferred to a pre-trial detention center, and his detention was extended by 10 days.
On January 28, Sudalenka faced official charges under Parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of actions grossly violating public order and financing such activities). He remained in custody in pre-trial detention center No. 3 in Homieĺ.
On November 3, 2021, the Centraĺny District Court of Homieĺ found Sudalenka guilty of “organizing and preparing actions that grossly violated public order” (Part 1, Article 342 of the Criminal Code), and “training and preparing persons to participate in such actions, as well as their financing or other material support” (Part 2, Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Sudalenka was sentenced to three years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.
On January 14, 2022, judge Mikalai Maratayeu of the Homieĺ Regional Court turned down Sudalenka's appeal, confirming the prison term.
On January 26, 2022, Leanid Sudalenka was transferred to penal colony No. 3 near Viciebsk.
"Rights are not given to us by the state". Big interview with Leanid Sudalenka two weeks before his detention
Two weeks before the detention of Leanid Sudalenka, head of the Viasna Gomel branch, the website of the Belarusian House of Human Rights named after Barys Zvozskau published a large interview with him. How did Leanid go from a country boy to a human rights activist who is well-known in Belarus and beyond? What drove him in his advocacy for ordinary citizens? How many complaints has he made to the UN Human Rights Committee?
“Criminal prosecution of Viasna members is not related to their work,” authorities responded to the UN request
The website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has published the official response of the Belarusian government to the request of four Special Rapporteurs on the search and detention of human rights defenders, NGO representatives, and independent media, which took place in July 2021.