Free Artyom Vazhenkov!

August 11, 2020

Two Open Russia activists, Artyom Vazhenkov and Igor Rogov, were detained and severely beaten in Minsk. Both Russian citizens arrived into Belarus last Friday to observe the presidential elections on August 9th. They were open in all of their activities on social media, by broadcasting impartial reports from the streets of Minsk. No local laws were violated.

On Tuesday they were shown on Belarusian state TV, accused of organising “riots”. This is an extremely serious accusation: under article 293 of the Criminal Code they face 5-15 years in prison.

On Tuesday evening Igor Rogov was released and told to leave Belarus within 24 hours. Artyom Vazhenkov remains in custody, his whereabouts are unknown.

“The state news agency Belta showed our coordinators, Artem Vazhenkov and Igor Rogov. They were severely beaten and were held in an unknown place, against their own will. This was quite simply a kidnapping. And those who did this are the real bandits, who should be punished for this.
The Belarusian authorities have crossed every possible line. We demand the immediate release of Russian citizens Artem Vazhenkov and Igor Rogov.”

Andrey Pivovarov, Open Russia executive director

“Holding hostages will cost the Lukashenko regime a lot. Support the demand for their release!”

Mikhail Khodorkovsky


The propaganda video in questions shows the activists brutally detained:

Artyom Vazhenkov published videos showing police attacking protesters on the streets of Minsk (in English):

Artyom Vazhenkov is a 38 year old lawyer and activist. He serves as Open Russia coordinator for the Tver region, where he also coordinates the work of “Golos”, an organisation focused on independent election observations.

Igor Rogov is a 22 year old Open Russia activist from Saransk. He started as an animals rights activist and later decided to join Open Russia. Through his involvement with animal rights, he understood the urgent need to fight for human rights in Russia. You can watch him discuss why he became an activist here.