Ihar Lohvinau, who won the International Publishers Association's Freedom to Publish Prize 2014 earlier this year, is to face judgement and sentencing in January, charged with selling books from his Belarus bookshop without state registration.
The five-year-old Lohvinau bookshop in Minsk is described by the IPA as "a vital hub for the country's fragile literary community". Meanwhile the Lohvinau Publishing House, founded in 2000, focuses on foreign and local works of literature, history, politics and art, with a focus on work by repressed Belarus writers.
Ihar Lohvinau's publishing licence was withdrawn by the Belarus Ministry of Information in October 2013 after he printed a book continuing a photograph of a protestor who had been assaulted by the police. Awarding him the Freedom to Publish prize in April, IPA secretary general Jens Bammel said: "Ihar Lohvinau's story shows how publishers are at the frontline in the defence of universal human rights."
Now in an email from the bookshop, it has been revealed that Lohvinau will be tried on 5th January, and that the shop could be closed and Lohvinau imprisoned if found guilty of selling books without state registration. "Over the past 10 months, we have applied eight times for the registration to the Ministry of Information and each time we have been rejected in a kafkaesque manner," the email said.
Responding, incoming IPA president Richard Charkin said: "This is outrageous. IPA and all your friends and supporters in the publishing world should stand up for you and against such repressive actions."