A resident of the Belarusian Novopolotsk, Alla Grudnitskaya, was fined 3,700 Belarusian rubles ($1,462) for a photo of a white dog in a red jumpsuit. The court found her guilty of “unauthorized picketing” (Part 1 of Article 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus), reports the Viasna human rights project.
According to investigators, Grudnitskaya published a photo of the dog in Odnoklassniki with the caption “Long live Belarus!!!!! No violence!!!”
The court issued a verdict on August 22 – this is the second fine imposed on Grudnitskaya. Five days earlier, on August 17, she was fined 1,110 Belarusian rubles ($438) for “disseminating extremist information” (Part 2 of Article 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Belarus). The reason for the persecution was her subscription to the Instagram page of a media outlet recognized as “extremist” in Belarus. To force Grudnitskaya to pay both fines, the court seized two phones from her as collateral.
Grudnitskaya’s husband, dentist Alexander Grudnitsky, is being prosecuted under the same articles. The couple was detained on August 16 when they were returning to Belarus from a trip abroad. Judging by the protocol, the security forces drew attention to them on August 11, when they were not in Belarus, human rights activists note.
On August 17, Grudnitsky was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for “unauthorized picketing” because of his photograph against the background of the Georgian and Ukrainian flags, published on his social network page on August 8, 2021. Viasna previously wrote about his arrest.
The next day, August 18, he received another 14 days for “disseminating extremist information” due to liking the “Charter 97” publication on Odnoklassniki.
The white-red-white flag and the Pahonia coat of arms are widely used by Belarusians as symbols of protest. These are symbols of the Belarusian People’s Republic – the first national state of Belarusians. After Alexander Lukashenko came to power, the Belarusian authorities repeatedly tried to abolish and ban these symbols, convincing Belarusians that they were allegedly used by “fascists.” Today people in Belarus are fined and arrested for wearing white-red-white symbols.