September 28, 2020 at 11:08 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Belarusian LGBTQ activist arrested during anti-government protest
Vika Biran in Minsk, Belarus, in August. (Photo courtesy of Vika Biran)

An LGBTQ activist in Belarus who joined protests against her country’s authoritarian president has been arrested.

Unit, a group that describes itself as “a network of journalists telling the stories of marginalized people in the post-Soviet states,” on Saturday said on its Twitter page that Vika Biran was taken into custody at a protest in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

Unit said authorities brought Biran to a police station after her arrest. Unit in another tweet said Biran was transferred to Minsk’s Okrestina jail.

Unit on Monday said a judge sentenced Biran to 15 days in jail for “violation of the procedure for organizing or holding mass events.”

“She appears to be unharmed and unbroken,” Unit told the Washington Blade.

Unit in a tweet said Biran did not pled guilty to the charge and added her lawyer plans to appeal the verdict. The group in a second tweet directed to Biran said “we are all looking forward to seeing you.”

Protests in Belarus continue after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election.

Biran, who is a project manager, flew from Berlin to Minsk three days after the disputed vote. Biran told the Blade during an Aug. 17 interview from the Belarusian capital that she decided to return to her homeland and participate in the protests after police arrested and beat several of her friends.

“I want to support them,” she said. “I want to be in this movement as well.”

Other LGBTQ activists have taken part in the anti-Lukashenko protests. Biran on Aug. 17 told the Blade the protests made her feel hopeful about Belarus’ future.

“I don’t want Lukashenka (Lukashenko’s last name in Belarusian) to be president anymore,” she said.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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