Mikita, Belarus

Until recently, Mikita Zalatarou was a typical teenager. He liked playing Minecraft and listening to rap music. Today, the 17-year-old who also has epilepsy has been cast into a world worse than Minecraft’s hellish Nether.

It all began in August 2020, says Mikita’s dad, when Mikita was waiting for a friend in the main square of Homel city, south-eastern Belarus. Nearby, people had been largely peacefully protesting the recent presidential election results when police moved in. According to Mikita’s father, as the crowd began running, someone told Mikita to run, too – so he did.

The following day – 11 August – police of cers came to Mikita’s door. They arrested him, beating and accusing him of throwing a Molotov cocktail towards two of cers the night before. While holding him in custody, they beat him with an electric shock truncheon. Of cers interrogated him without a lawyer or responsible adult present, and locked him up for six months before putting him on trial.

Mikita was convicted of mass disorder and using illegal explosives, yet video evidence did not show him taking part in violence. Media reports on the demonstrations mentioned no mass unrest. Still, the judge sentenced Mikita to ve years in a child educational prison colony.

  1. Write to the authorities in Belarus

Write your own letter or use the sample letter below.

Dear Prosecutor General,

Mikita Zalatarou was waiting for a friend on the street in Homel when he was swept into a crowd of protesters on 10 August 2020.


Within 24 hours, the 16-year-old – who also has epilepsy – was in police custody, accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail.


Officers beat him, electrocuted him, interrogated him without a lawyer or responsible adult present, and locked him up for six months before putting him on trial.


Despite no evidence showing Mikita had been involved in any violence, he was convicted and sentenced to ve years’ imprisonment.

Please do all in your power to ensure that he is released pending a fair trial that meets international child justice standards.

Yours sincerely, ......

Address your letter to...

Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus

ul. Internatsionalnaya 22

220030 Minsk

Belarus

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2. Send a message of solidarity to Mikita

Show Mikita you're with him

Send him your messages of solidarity and friendship. If you’re into Minecraft like Mikita, try creating environments that symbolize freedom and hope in the game, print them out, and send them to him.

T O :

Mikita Zalatarou

ADDRESS:

Educational Colony V.K – 2
ul. Batova 4
Bobruisk
213800 Mogilevskaya Obl.
Belarus

Thank you.