Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko addresses the media after casting his vote during the parliamentary election in Minsk, Belarus November 17, 2019.


  • Human rights center Viasna said Mykola Klimovich died in a penal colony in Belarus' Vitebsk region
  • Klimovich suffered from heart problems and recently had a stroke
  • Klimovich was arrested for reacting to a caricature depicting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

A 61-year-old blogger who was jailed after reacting to a caricature depicting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on social media has died in prison.

Mykola Klimovich, a social activist from the Belarusian city of Pinsk, died while serving his prison term in penal colony No. 3 in the country's Vitebsk region, human rights center Viasna reported. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Klimovich had a Group II heart disability, suffered from a stroke, and underwent a complex heart operation before he was sentenced to prison, according to Viasna.

The human rights group said Klimovich attracted the attention of the Belarusian security forces in December 2022 after he reacted to a cartoon depicting Lukashenko with a "funny" emoticon on the Russian social network Odnoklassniki, causing the image to be placed on the feed of his page.

On Feb. 10, Klimovich was formally tried for violating Article 19.10 of Belarus' Code of Administrative Offenses and was found guilty of spreading Nazi symbols.

But the Belarusian blogger insisted that he didn't intend to spread the satirical image.

Viasna said Klimovich "did not put a 'class' or 'share' icon, but just a 'funny' emoticon."

Klimovich "did not intend to distribute these cartoons, but simply laughed at them," the human rights center added.

On Feb. 28, Klimovich was sentenced to one year in prison by the Court of the Pinsk District and the city of Pinsk.

In March, Klimovich told the independent Belarusian news agency Pozirk that he was afraid of dying in prison.

"Any prison sentence is death for me because I have to be under the constant supervision of a doctor [and] take a lot of strong medicine. I might not last even a month," the social activist said.

Last month, the Brest Regional Court upheld the verdict against Klimovich, and he was soon transferred to the penal colony, where he died about two weeks into his stay. He lasted a little more than two months in prison.

Writers association PEN Belarus said it had recorded 459 cultural and human rights violations in the country in the first three months of 2023, affecting 229 cultural activists and 72 cultural organizations.

The group also revealed that at least 115 cultural figures were imprisoned, and 137 were in custody or home confinement.

According to the organization, most of the charges filed by Belarusian authorities against activists were about spreading "extremist materials" or joining activities or organizations allegedly involved in extremist activities.

Among the newly-convicted activists in Belarus is human rights defender and writer Ales Bialiatski.

Bialiatski, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, was sentenced by a Minsk court to 10 years in prison and a fine of approximately $63,000 in March for supporting the massive street protests condemning the results of the recent Belarusian presidential elections.

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Ales Bialiatski