Volha Mayorava

political activist, sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment


Date of birth: 22 August 1966

Date of detention: 4 January 2021

Charges indicted:

Art. 361 of the Criminal Code — Calls for actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus
Art. 295 of the Criminal Code — Unlawful acts against firearms, ammunition and explosives
Part 2 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code — Participation in a criminal organization in any other form
Art. 130 of the Criminal Code — Incitement to hatred
Art. 411 — Malicious disobedience to the demands of administration of the correctional institution
Part 1 of Art. 14 and Part 2 of Art. 357 of the Criminal Code — Attempted conspiracy to seize state power by unconstitutional means

Sentence: 20 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony

Prison sentence start date: 31 March 2023

Judge: Maksim Filatau

Prosecutor: Liudmila Herasimenka, Uladzimir Rabau

Prison: Penal colony No. 24

Cases: Справа Аўтуховіча

Groups: Activists

Godparent: Priska Seiler Graf, Swiss National Councillor

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

Volha Mayorava is a political activist, formerly an active member of the United Civil Party.

Mayorava was arrested on January 4, 2021, in her house in the village of Nača (Krupki district, Minsk region) as a defendant in the so-called "Mikalai Autukhovich case". Her house was searched, as a result of which the KGB officers confiscated IT equipment.

At first, Mayorava was held in the KGB remand prison. Later she was transferred to the remand prison in Hrodna.

In February 2021, the KGB put the political prisoner on the 'List of persons involved in terrorist activities'.

On October 2022, the Hrodna Regional Court sentenced Volha Mayorava to 20 years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 25,600 Belarusian rubles ($10,100). She was convicted under five articles of the Criminal Code:

  • ‘Taking part in a criminal organization in any other form’ (Part 2 of Article 285)
  • ‘Attempted seizure of state power by unconstitutional means’ (Part 1 of Article 14 and Part 2 of Article 357)
  • ‘Incitement to hatred by a group of persons’ (Part 3 of Article 130)
  • ‘Calls for actions/sanctions aiming to harm the national security of Belarus’ (Part 3 of Article 361)
  • ‘Unlawful acts against firearms, ammunition, and explosives committed by an organized group’ (Part 4 of Article 295)

Along with the activist Volha Mayorava, the defendants in the case were the political activist Mikalai Autukhovich, priest Siarhei Rezanovich, his wife Liubou Rezanovich, their son Pavel Rezanovich, pensioner Halina Dzerbysh, activist Uladzimir Hundar, pensioner Iryna Melkher and her son Anton Melkher, and Iryna Harachkina, Viktar Snehur and Paviel Sava. They were held behind bars for 22 months. Only two of them fully admitted their guilt. All of them were arrested in December–January 2020. The authorities immediately declared Autukhovich the organizer and leader of a “terrorist group” that operated in the Hrodna region and allegedly set police officers’ cars and houses on fire.

The trial began on May 18, 2022, in the pre-trial detention center of Prison #1 in Hrodna, and lasted for five months. The verdict was pronounced on October 17, 2022, by the Hrodna Regional Court. Judge Maksim Filatau imposed jail terms ranging from two and a half to 25 years. Deputy chair of the prosecutor's office Liudmila Herasimenka and senior assistant prosecutor Uladzimir Rabau represented the state prosecution at the trial. The people's assessors were Stavorka, Zhdanovich, and Nichypor.

At the trial, Volha Mayorava challenged the state prosecutors. It is known that on July 14, 2022, she was removed from the hearing and placed in a punishment cell for "violating the order". The exact reasons for and timing of the penalties are unknown. Besides, Volha Mayorava was suspected of having diabetes. Human rights defenders know that in September 2022, she was placed in a punishment cell.

On March 31, 2023, the Supreme Court considered the appeals of the defendants in the Autukhovich case. The Judicial Collegium, chaired by Judge Pavel Karshunovich, ruled to release Mikalai Autukhovich from the imposed punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations regarding the conviction under Article 295-3 of the Criminal Code ('Illegal actions with objects, the action of which is based on the use of combustible substances') and to release Iryna Harachkina from the punishment under Part 1 of Article 405 of the Criminal Code ('Concealment of a serious crime'). As a result, the sentence for Iryna Harachkina was reduced by one month, while the sentence for Autukhovich was left unchanged. As for the rest of the political prisoners, the judicial board dismissed their appeals and upheld the verdicts.

On May 12, 2023, the Ministry of Internal Affairs included Volha Mayorava in the 'List of citizens of Belarus, foreign citizens, and stateless persons involved in extremist activities'.

In mid-May 2023, it became known that the political prisoner was transferred to women's penal colony #4 in Homieĺ.

On March 5, 2024, Volha was tried under Article 411 of the Criminal Code for alleged disobedience to the lawful demands of the prison administration. The case was presided over by Judge Anna Sakalova.

Mikalai Autukhovich gets 25 years in jail, members of his ‘group’—up to 20

On October 17, 2022, the Hrodna Regional Court pronounced the verdicts on the high-profile Autukhovich case. The trial lasted five months. Judge Maksim Filatau imposed jail terms ranging from two and a half to 25 years.


Mail address: Penal colony No. 24. 247526, vulica Vytvorčaja, 44, Zarečča, Rečyca district, Homieĺ region

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