Jail time: this is what happens when you poke the Belarusian bear

World

Jail time: this is what happens when you poke the Belarusian bear

President Alexander Lukashenko is very quick to crush any dissident activity in Belarus

Aliaksandr Kudrytski and Andrea Dudik

Andrey was working at a bar in central Minsk when he stumbled into the dangerous world of politics in a country where protest comes with a prison sentence, or worse.

At OK16, a former factory hall turned culture hub in the Belarusian capital, Andrey would often see Viktor Babariko, the CEO of a bank that owned the venue, in line for a coffee and a chat. When he unexpectedly announced his bid to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in August’s election, Andrey thought: Why not join Babariko’s campaign?

But rather than herald a new era, the dream of wresting power from Lukashenko landed Andrey in a jail cell for more than six months, followed by a one-year term in a low-security prison that’s still pending. Babariko and his son, along with a number of other top team members and hundreds of other political activists, had already been incarcerated...

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