UPDATE: The Struggle for Freedom: Disturbing reports about Belarusian blogger Ihar Losik’s condition in prison

Learn more about Ellen Bork.
Ellen Bork
George W. Bush Institute

An update on Ihar Losik, a jailed Belarusian blogger and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

A disturbing lack of clarity surrounds the status of Ihar Losik, a jailed Belarusian blogger and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Losik is serving a 15-year sentence at a prison labor camp after being arrested before Belarus’s August 2020 presidential election. That election was ultimately stolen from the victorious opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikanouskaya, by the dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The Struggle for Freedom feature about Losik and why Lukashenka views him as a threat can be read here.

Although a human rights organization initially reported that Losik attempted suicide, a person who asked not to be identified told RFE/RL that Losik’s wounds weren’t serious and were part of a protest against a degrading order from prison guards to clean the barracks. The incident allegedly occurred March 15. RFE/RL’s Aleh Hruzdzilovich, himself a former political prisoner, explained that prisoners sometimes resist cleaning orders because complying with them “automatically places an inmate among prisoners who have a so-called ‘lower status.’”

Losik is Catholic and has written to Pope Francis asking the pontiff to intervene with the Belarusian regime on behalf of political prisoners and their families.

Losik’s current whereabouts within the prison are unclear, and RFE/RL reports that he may be in solitary confinement. His family isn’t being permitted to speak with Losik to determine his condition and has said that they stopped receiving letters from him more than a month ago. Prison officials haven’t offered any information to the public.

According to Hanna Liubakova, an exiled Belarusian journalist, Losik’s lawyer has been detained, a common fate among lawyers who defend journalists, activists and opposition politicians in Belarus. Losik’s previous lawyer fled Belarus, leaving him without representation for months.

On March 21, Ihar Losik’s wife Darya lost her appeal of a two-year sentence for giving an interview to a Belarusian television station based in Poland. The Losiks’ young daughter is now in the care of her maternal grandparents.