From Radio Free Europe
A court in Minsk has sentenced the mother of a fugitive Belarusian anarchist to three years of open prison for taking part in unsanctioned rallies against the regime of authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
The Frunze district court in the Belarusian capital sentenced the 57-year-old Hayane Akhtiyan on April 12 after it found her guilty of taking part in activities that disrupt social order, the Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center said.
The open prison system is known across the former Soviet Union as “khimiya” (chemistry), a name that goes back to the late-1940s when convicts were sent to work at dangerous facilities, mainly chemical factories, and allowed to live in special dormitories instead of being incarcerated in penitentiaries.
These days, a “khimiya” sentence means that a convict will stay in a dormitory not far from their permanent address and work either at their workplace as usual or at a state entity defined by the penitentiary service.
Akhtiyan was arrested in November after police searched her home. She was then sentenced to 10 days in jail on a charge of disobedience to police.
She was not released after she served the 10-day jail term and instead handed a new charge of taking part in activities that disrupt social order as a result of her participation in an unsanctioned anti-government rally.
At the time, pro-government Telegram channels showed Akhtiyan on her knees in front of police officers pleading guilty. A caption accompanying the posts said: “Parents are responsible for their children.”
Akhtiyan’s son, well-known anarchist Raman Khalilau, left Belarus in 2019 fearing for his safety. Belarusian authorities launched two probes against him and several other anarchists last year accusing them of extremism.
The criminal cases were linked to the activities of Khalilau and his colleagues abroad who were critical of Lukashenka and his government.