March 1, 2024

01.03.2024 – Belarusian Journalist and a Publicist Igar Lednik Dies in Custody

Belarusian journalist, publicist and activist Igar / Ihar / Igor Lednik (Ігар Леднік), who was detained on 18 April 2022 and was serving a three-year prison sentence for allegedly spreading false information about President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko (Аляксандр Лукашэнка) – according to the Article 367 of the Criminal Code, has passed away behind bars at age of 64 in Mogilev (Магілёў) Belarus, as announced by the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Assembly) – BSDH, (Беларуская сацыял-дэмакратычная партыя (Грамада) – БСДП) on Tuesday 20 February 2024. Lednik’s death occurred at the Minsk (Мінск), Belarus district hospital, with cardiac arrest cited as the official cause. His health had significantly deteriorated during detention, exacerbated by a prior surgery on his gastrointestinal tract and pre-existing heart issues. In June 2022, when he was in prison, his legal representative informed the public that the client’s health had worsened. He was in Mogilev Colony No. 15.

Lednik’s Facebook profile was deemed as “extremist” by the Borisov (Барысаў) District Court in July 2022.

His imprisonment stemmed from accusations of defamation against President Alexander Lukashenko, with Lednik’s critiques of the Belarus-Russia union and Lukashenko’s governance. Initially facing 15 days of house arrest, Lednik was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison for an article published in 2020, which authorities claimed impugned the dignity of the state leader.

Lednik’s health had been in decline since his arrest, compounded by medical procedures during detention and pre-existing cardiac issues.

Over 1,400 political prisoners are reportedly held in Belarus.

Igar Lednik, born on 12 December 1960, in Minsk, Belarus, was an advocate for entrepreneurial rights. He received a higher technical education and established commercial enterprises such as Yason (Ясон) and Lima (Ліма) in the early 1990s. Lednik played a key role in defending the rights of entrepreneurs and was instrumental in founding the Coordination Council of Individual Entrepreneurs and coordinating its rights advocacy movement under the banner of “Our Belarus” (Наша Беларусь). He served as deputy director of the Center for Defense of Property Rights, Managers, and Entrepreneurs (Цэнтра абароны правоў уласнасці, кіраўнікоў і прадпрымальнікаў). Additionally, he engaged in political activism, affiliating himself with the Belarusian Social Democratic Party- He started publishing journalistic articles both domestically and internationally.

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) vehemently condemns the imprisonment and is upset about the death of Lednik. We extend our deepest condolences to Lednik’s family, friends, and colleagues, and stand in solidarity with all journalists and activists facing threats to their safety and freedom of expression in Belarus. This tragic loss underscores the urgent need for international attention and action to address the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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