Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published “Human Rights in Armenia 2014” Annual Report. The report reflects on the Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Political Persecutions, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, The Rights of the Child, Protection of Labor Rights.
«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Minsk Region Court acquits Ivan Mikhailau



Today, on May 4, 2010, Minsk Region Court has fully acquitted Ivan Mikhailau, finding no legally defined crime in activities of a young parishioner. The case that has lasted since December 2009, has been finalized.


A 21-y.o. parishioner of the “New Testament” Community was accused of draft evasion according to Art. 435.1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

Ivan Mikhailau, to remind you, denied serving into the army. He stated to the recruiting committee of Minsk region that military service contradicts to his principles and, in accordance with Art.57 of the Belarusian Constitution, demanded alternative service. This right was denied to him as there is at present no law on alternative service among Belarusian legislation. Mikhaulau was also denied reserve service.

On December 15, 2009, young man was arrested in Salihorsk and placed into a pre-trial prison. On February 1, 2010, Minsk Region Court called him guilty of a criminal offence in draft evasion. Mikhailau was sentenced to 3 months of imprisonment and served his term in Prison #8 in Zhodzina.

On March 9, 2010, a Panel of Judges of Minsk Oblast Court had considered a cassation appeal of Mikhailau regarding the sentence given by a decision of Minsk Region Court. The Panel of Jusges in its decision nullified previous verdict and submitted case for another consideration. Milkhailau was, meanwhile, set free under a notice not to leave the country.

“Amnesty International” has considered Mikhaulau a prisoner of conscience.

Reconsideration of the case started on March 26, 2010, and took a term more than a month. However, due to such a long and in-depth investigation of the merits, the court was able to investigate in detail written matters of the case, witnesses’ reports and to conclude that Mikhailau is non-guilty.

Public Campaign “For Alternative Civilian Service in Belarus” welcomes the decision of Minsk Region Court. This is the first absolvent court decision on a criminal case brought about against young people who demand alternative service instead of the military and who are accused of evading service.

However, it is yet too early to say that the problem of lack of alternative service has been solved. Thus, another draft recruiting campaign has started in Belarus. In the nearest future Ivan Mikhailau will receive another notification of draft to the military, meanwhile the Law on Alternative Service is still being developed, and young man again face the prisoner’s box.

On May 12, 2010, two analogous court cases will be considered in Gomel – on Dzmitry Smyk and Yauheni Yakavenka.

Dzmitry Smyk — a member of a “Jehovah’s Witnesses” community demanded alternative service be assigned to him instead of the military, and in December 2009 was found guilty of draft evasion and sentenced to a fee. After the Supreme Court sent a protest, the sentence was nullified and the case submitted for a new consideration. His case will be considered at 11 AM.

Yauheni Yakavenka — activist of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party organization committee, numerously submitted appeals to the drafting committees with a request to substitute military service with alternative service for him. For “draft evasion” he was administratively prosecuted and further acquitted, but later on a criminal case was initiated against him.

A question on the appeal of Andrei Tsianuta remains unsolved. Young man also demanded alternative service, however, in September 2009 was forcedly drafted to the army. Complaints as to the actions of the recruiting committee remains under examination of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus, however no decision has been made upon it yet.

Moral pressure is being put by the command onto a soldier of the Military Unit 52500 of Vitebsk oblast, Siarhei Serebro who had submitted an appeal for ACS being already drafted to the army. Preventive discussions are held with other soldiers of the Military Unit 52287 of Vitebsk oblast – Kruk, Matul, Chernik who also expressed their wish to substitute military service with alternative.

Public Campaign “For Alternative Civilian Service in Belarus” expresses its deepest hope that today’s decision of the Minsk Region Court will be taken an example in consideration of other cases of criminal and administrative prosecution connected to the right to alternative civilian service, and will promote quicker adoption of corresponding legislation.

Monitoring group of the

Public Campaign “For Alternative Civilian Service in Belarus”