Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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Siarhie Dyleuski: A Belarus Opposition Leader

By Stewart Coard , in Belarus Election Integrity Human Rights Police Violence Uncategorized , at November 17, 2020

Labor activist leader, Siarhei Dyleuski. PHOTO: Daria Buriakina,

Siarhei Dyleuski is a labor activist serving on strike committees for Minsk Tractor Works(MTZ), one of Belarus’s major industrial centers, who also serves as a member of the Coordination Council Presidium. 

The 2020 Belarusian Presidential Elections stirred up dissatisfaction with the current administration among the populace, including blue-collar workers who traditionally supported the president. Workers at the MTZ supported the political demonstrations against Lukashenko by taking part in strikes. Dyleuski acted as a representative for their movement, helping to organize these strikes among his colleagues.

On the 18th of August, several activist s were chosen to lead the Coordination Council, a group intended to organize the political movement against the current regime and ensure cooperation among different politically active groups. The Council was formed following the election to resist a regime they consider to be illegitimate and undemocratic. Dyleuski was chosen from the striking committees to represent workers on the Council.

Unfortunately, his involvement in civil action led to extreme retaliation by Belarusian authorities. On August 24th at 11 am, Dyleuski met with several of his colleagues near the MZT factory building in order to discuss possible strikes, when riot police arrived to take him into custody. He was transported to a detention center where a corona virus outbreak had been ongoing and forced to testify in a small room that prevented appropriate social distancing. He was denied the right to legal counsel and his attorney, Daria Lipkina, had little opportunity to examine evidence. The court accused him of holding an unlawful assembly at the MZT building, although the exact accusations were changed several times. Despite his insistence that the meeting only occurred among acquaintances and did not constitute a rally, Dyleuski was sentenced to 10 days in jail. By the end of his sentence, further charges were brought against him based on earlier participation in rallies, resulting in a new sentence of 15 more days of incarceration.

Soon after being released, Dyleuski chose to resign from his position at MTZ and mentioned threats to his family, implying he had been blackmailed into leaving. On October 12th, he announced his departure from Belarus and moved to Poland where he is currently seeking refuge from Lukashenko’s regime. The council member explained that his decision to leave his job and the country were both due to threats made by the Belarusian KGB. Before leaving for Warsaw, Dyleuski had been the only member of the Coordinating Council residing in Belarus not currently incarcerated.