Vital Melnik

sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment

Date of birth: 12 February 1982

Date of detention: 30 March 2022

Charges indicted:

Art. 295 of the Criminal Code — Unlawful acts against firearms, ammunition and explosives
Art. 368 of the Criminal Code — Insulting the President of the Republic of Belarus
Art. 309 of the Criminal Code — Intentional disrepair of a vehicle or communication lines
Art. 289 of the Criminal Code — An act of terrorism

Sentence: 13 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a maximum security prison

Prison sentence start date: 25 April 2023

Judge: Anzhalika Danilava

Prison: Penal colony No. 13

Godparent: Max Lucks, Member of the German Bundestag

On the list of “terrorists” (money transfers are prohibited)

Vital Melnik lives in the village of Chadakova, Minsk region. He has a little child.

Vital was accused of setting fire to the relay cabinet of an automatic blocking traffic light at the Navasady-Barysaŭ railway line in March 2022, thereby disabling the railway signaling system. His illegal actions allegedly created a real threat of a serious accident, damage to railway rolling stock, death or injury to people. Besides, according to the prosecutor's office, unregistered firearms (pistols) were found in Melnik's car and home. He repeatedly publicly insulted Lukashenka on social networks.

Melnik's family believes that he is not involved in these crimes. They rather connects his detention with the revenge of the local judge, as well as with the fact that Melnik has earlier had a criminal record.

For a long time, human rights defenders did not know where Vital Melnik was being held. Then it was established that he was in Pretrial Detention Center #1 on Valadarskaha Street in Minsk. He moves on crutches as during the arrest, the law enforcers shot Melnik in his knee joints.

On December 22, 2022, the Minsk Regional Court found Vital Melnik guilty under five articles of the Criminal Code:

  • Part 4 of Art. 309 ('Intentional distruction of a vehicle or communication lines')
  • Part 2 Art. 295 ('Illegal actions in relation to firearms, ammunition and explosives')
  • Part 1 Art. 368 (‘insulting the president of Belarus’)
  • Part 3 Art. 295 ('Illegal actions in relation to firearms, ammunition and explosives, committed by a group of persons, or repeatedly)
  • Part 1 Art. 289 (‘act of terrorism’)

The total punishment is 13 years in a super maximum-security penal colony. Besides, he must pay 300 basic fines (about USD 3,466 as of December 31, 2022). The trial was led by Judge Anzhalika Danilava.

Mail address: Penal colony No. 13. 211793, Hlubokaje, Saveckaja 205

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