Vadzim Babin, a third-year student of Minsk College of Technology, was having a computer science class when he was suddenly called to the principal’s office where a representative of the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) was waiting for him.
According to student, during their conversation the officer repeatedly tried to intimidate him.
“He wanted me to suspend my membership in the movement ‘For Freedom’ for the period of my studies and said in a reverse situation I would be expelled,” Vadzim Babin says.
Yet at the same time, college Principal Mikalai Tsirelchuk denies any exerting pressure on the student. Tsirelchuk confirmed his presence at the KGB officer’s talk with Babin in his presence, but said that the conversation was of solely preventive nature – according to him, the security official was trying to dissuade the student form playing truant.
Babin’s being an observer during the recent parliamentary election may be the reason for the KGB’s harassing him, the members of For Freedom believe. The movement is ready to defend him by all means available, including direct appeals to the educational institution, the Ministry of Education, the Office of Public Prosecutor, the State Control Commission. If all the steps have no effect, the situation will be reported to international organizations, Ales Slavinski, a representative of the movement For Freedom, says.
The KGB’s imposing pressure on civil activists has long been a sad tradition in Belarus. As many students are dependent on university authorities that can deprive them of a hostel bed or even exclude for some absences or a flunked exam, they often become an easy target for Belarus’ secter service.