Talented chemistry student, political prisoner Artsyom Bayarski sentenced to 5 years in jail

On December 9, Minsk City court completed hearing the case of 20-year-old political prisoner Artsyom Bayarski. The trial was held behind closed doors.

Artsyom Bayarski.

Notably, representatives of foreign diplomatic missions were seeking to be present at the announcement of the verdict, but in vain: they were not allowed to enter the courtroom. They had to wait for Artsyom’s parents in front of the court building.

Artsyom was charged under Article 342 (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order or active participation in them’) and Article 361-1 (‘establishment of an extremist formation’) of the Criminal Code of Belarus.

Today judge Alena Shylko has found the young man guilty of setting up an ‘extremist group’ (according to the prosecution, he administered My Country Belarus Telegram channel and chat) and sentenced him to 5 years in a medium security penal colony. Volha Dyndzilevich acted as a public prosecutor during the trial.

Reportedly, Artsyom faced the sentence with dignity: he managed to say that ‘Belarus will become a normal country one day’.

Minsk police batter chemistry student to film confession. Video appears on propagandist’s Telegram

Artsyom Bayarski was detained by the Minsk police on April 18 after serving 25 days of arrest for participating in a peaceful assembly. He was charged under Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code (creation of an extremist formation). Bayarski was taken into custody in pre-trial prison Nr 1 in Minsk. As reported earlier, infamous Belarusian propagandist Ryhor Azaronak posted a video that showed Artsyom’s confessing to administering a public group on social media. On April 19, the arrestee told his lawyer that the police officers repeatedly hit him on the back and buttocks with truncheons during the detention in late March in order to make him appear in the video.

Prior to the arrest, Artsyom was a student of Chemistry Department of the Belarusian State University (BSU). He became a fellow of the President’s Special Fund to Support Talented Youth four times, but in August 2020 he withdrew from obtaining a presidential scholarship in protest. As a schooler, he repeatedly took winning places in National Chemistry Olympiads.

In November 2021, Russian scientists signed an open letter to the Prosecutor General of Belarus Andrey Shved and head of Minsk City Court Tatsyana Tupik. In the appeal, 47 representatives of the Russian Academy of Sciences urged them to release Artsyom Bayarski from custody. Moreover, the young man was admitted to Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania’s Kaunas (BA in Biotechnology). As soon as the 20-year-old political prisoner is released, he could move to the neighbouring country and extend his knowledge.

The Belarusian human rights community declared Artsyom Bayarski a prisoner of conscience.

Better than under Rákosi, worse than under Jaruzelski: What can repressions in Belarus be compared to?