Political prisoner Marfa Rabkova loses too much weight, but ‘sticks to guns’ – attorney

On July 5, defence lawyer Natallya Matskevich visited political prisoner Marfa Rabkova, who has been in jail since September.

“She [Marfa] has thinned down, she is very skinny, but she keeps sticking to guns. She made a quotation ‘It is not the people who choose the time to live in, but the time chooses the people’ and said: “If the time has chosen us, we must cope with the situation,” the lawyer wrote on Twitter.

In April, human rights activist Tatsyana Hatsura-Yavorskaya, who happened to be Rabkova’s cellmate, said that the girl lost about 12 kilograms behind bars.

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According to human rights centre Viasna, Marfa Rabkova fainted due to stuffiness and the lack of fresh air in the cell during the wave of violent heat in Belarus on June 27-28. The only medical care she got was a headache pill.

In early May, the political prisoner was placed on the preventive list as ‘a person prone to extremism’.

Marfa Rabkova, a coordinator of the volunteer service of HRC Viasna, has been kept in Minsk detention centre Nr 1 on Valadarski Street for about 10 months. In the wake of the arrest, Marfa was charged under Article 293-3 of the Criminal Code (‘training or other preparation of persons to participate in mass riot or financing of such activities’). The punishment under this article is imprisonment for up to three years. On 11 February she faced new charges under Article 130-3 (‘incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or hatred, committed by a group of persons’), as well as under Article 285-2 (‘participation in a criminal organisation’).

If found guilty, the human rights activist may face up to 12 years of imprisonment.

Human rights center ‘Viasna’ under investigation