Belarusian Lawyer Who Advised Imprisoned Activists Goes On Trial


Belarusian lawyer Anastasia Lazarenka, who advised activists jailed for taking part in mass protests challenging the official results of an August 2020 presidential election, has been put on trial herself as the regime’s crackdown on dissent continues.

Judge Svyatlana Charapanava of the Minsk City Court began overseeing Lazarenka’s trial on May 2, almost a year after the 40-year-old lawyer was arrested and charged with organizing an unsanctioned mass gathering, organizing and preparing actions that blatantly aimed to disrupt social order, and the misusing personal data of Belarusian police officers and judges.

The first two charges stem from Lazarenka’s free legal consultations to jailed activists outside the Minsk Akrestsina detention center in 2020. The third charge alleges she published information on police officers on the social media platform Telegram.

Separately on May 2, Minsk City Court Judge Yauhen Pisarevich started the trial of artist Henadz Drazdou.

The 64-year-old Drazdou was arrested in August 2022 upon his arrival from a trip to Ukraine and charged with “facilitating extremist activities.”

Investigators said at the time that they had searched Drazdou’s home and found photos of the artist posing with Ukrainian soldiers.

State media reports said later that Drazdou also took part in anti-government protests in Belarus in 2020, blocking roads, talking to “radical opposition activists,” and “planning illegal activities.”

Hundreds of people have been handed prison terms after a presidential election in August 2020 in which the country’s authoritarian ruler, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, claimed victory while rights activists and opposition politicians said the poll was rigged.

Belarus witnessed unprecedented unrest over the election results that lasted for several months.