March 2023 | Belarus expands capital punishment
On 9 March Belarus expanded the list of crimes that can be punished by the death penalty to include treason by public officials and members of the armed services. The law is similar to one passed by Russia shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and may be intended to maintain order in official ranks in the event of direct Belarusian involvement in the war.
February 2023 | Nobel Prize winner Byalyatski sentenced to 12 years
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Byalyatski and his fellow human rights activists in the organization Viasna, Valyantsin Stefanovich, and Uladzimer Labkovich, were sentenced to 12, 11, and 9 years imprisonment, respectively. They were charged with and convicted of tax-evasion and smuggling by a court in Minsk. The decision has been part of a wave of convictions of human rights activists, journalists, and individual citizens in Belarus. The ruling was roundly condemned by the international community as groundless and politically motivated retribution for Viasna’s human rights work. A fourth activist, Zmitser Salauyou, was sentenced to 8 years in absentia.
January 2023 | New law allows rendering Belarusians stateless
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a law allowing the government to strip any Belarusian of citizenship for poorly or undefined crimes such as “causing grave harm to the interests of the state” and other offenses. Rights watchdogs say the new law will be used to render critics abroad stateless and crack down on any effort to organize against the dictatorship.
October 2022 | New decree gives KGB authority to monitor all online activity
A new presidential decree, which operationalizes a law passed in 2021, gives the Belarusian security and information services the authority to request any user data or metadata from internet resources and service providers. Legal experts say that the decree gives state security agencies unlimited control over the Belarusian internet.