Solitary Confinement Extended For Belarusian Musician Convicted Of 'Insulting Police'

MINSK -- Well-known Belarusian punk-rock musician Ihar Bantser, who has been in solitary confinement in a so-called open prison for almost two weeks, will spend another 10 days in isolation for unspecified reasons.

Bantser was sentenced in March to 18 months in an open prison for allegedly publicly insulting police by exposing intimate parts of his body during an anti-government rally. The sentence means that he lives under strict restrictions in a special dormitory and works at an industrial facility chosen by the state penitentiary service.

He was placed in solitary confinement on November 25 for recording a video for the online newspaper Meduza, where he showed the conditions in the open prison.

His relatives said on December 7 that they were not told why the isolation punishment was extended.

They also accused the open prison's administration of intentionally pressuring the leader of the Mister X punk group, who has refused to sign a letter asking for clemency from strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1994.

In all, Bantser has spent 70 days in solitary confinement since August.

Belarus has witnessed more than a year of unprecedented rallies and protest actions after Lukashenka was declared the winner of the August 9, 2020, election by a landslide amid allegations of widespread fraud.

Tens of thousands of people have been detained, hundreds beaten, several killed, and journalists targeted in the government crackdown.

Lukashenka and top officials have been slapped with sanctions by the West, which refuses to recognize him as the legitimate leader of the former Soviet republic.