Belarusian journalist Ihar Losik (file photo)
Jailed RFE/RL journalist Ihar Losik may still be in solitary confinement, sources told RFE/RL's Belarus Service , following a rights-group report that he had been taken to hospital after cutting himself with a sharp instrument to protest against orders given to him by prison guards.
The Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center quoted sources on March 20 as saying Losik had been taken to a prison medical facility after being found with "cuts to his hands and neck" while on a hunger strike in punitive solitary confinement.
Prison officials have not commented on the situation, and Losik's family and lawyer have said they are trying to get information on his status as they have not been able to communicate with him for weeks.
Sources close to penitentiary services told RFE/RL on March 21 that Losik cut his hand and neck to protest an order to clean his barracks. According to the sources, the incident took place on March 15 and since the wounds were not serious, Losik may still be in solitary confinement at correctional camp No. 1 in the city of Navapolatsk in the country's northeast.
RFE/RL journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich, who has served time in Belarusian correctional facilities, told RFE/RL that, in general, inmates clean their premises and the places they live themselves.
But in situations when guards order a cleaning of the premises, especially restrooms, inmates sometimes choose to disobey such orders , or even inflict bodily harm on themselves, to protest against carrying out the task.
"To follow such an order automatically places an inmate among prisoners who have a so-called 'lower status'," Hruzdzilovich said.
Losik was sentenced to 15 years in prison in December 2021 on a number of indictments, including "organizing mass riots, incitement to social hatred," and several other charges that remain unclear.
He has maintained his innocence and says all the charges against him are politically motivated.
In January, Losik's wife, Darya Losik, was sentenced to two years in prison on a charge of facilitating extremist activity. The charge stemmed from her interview with the Poland-based Belsat television channel that has been officially labeled as an extremist group by Minsk.
On March 21, the Belarusian Supreme Court rejected her appeal against the sentence.
The couple's 4-year-old daughter, Paulina, is currently in the custody of Darya Losik's parents.
The United States has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Ihar and Darya Losik, while RFE/RL President Jamie Fly has also demanded the couple's immediate release and condemned their imprisonment.