Convicts in students’ case start to be transferred to penal colonies

Women’s penal colony in Homiel. 8 April 2021. Photo: АВ / Belsat

The convicts in the so-called students’ case has started to be transferred to penal colonies after their appeals were dismissed, human rights centre Viasna reports.

Alana Hebremaryam, former BSU student Tatsyana Yakelchyk, former BNTU student Viktoryia Hrankovskaya were placed in the women’s colony in Homiel. Former student Yahor Kanetski was transferred to colony Vitsba-3 in Vitsebsk region. Kasya Budzko is still in remand prison Nr 1 in Minsk.

Yana Arabeyka, Anastasiya Bulybenka, Kseniya Syramalot, Volha Filatchankava and Maryia Kalenik are being held in remand prison Nr 3 in Homiel. Illya Trakhtenberg and Hleb Fitsner are in Mahiliou prison Nr 4.

On 1 September 2020, Belarus’ official Knowledge Day, lots of students took to the streets to protest against vote rigging and the authorities’ harsh response to dissidence. OMON special forces and plainclothed policemen detained young people across the country. The students’ protests continued in the autumn of 2020. On October 26-27, i.e. during the days of the People’s Ultimatum announced by Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the most massive student protests were held in Belarusian universities. On November 12, the detentions began, the homes of members of the Belarusian Students’ Association and the organisation’s office were searched.

Riot police disperse Minskers expressing solidarity with defendants in students’ case. At least 14 persons detained

As part of the students’ case, the accusations were brought against 12 persons. They were charged under Art. 17-2 and Art. 342-1 of the Criminal Code (the latter is ‘organisation of actions that grossly violate public order’).

According to the Belarusian Investigative Committee, they were coordinators at the local level, they posted on special Telegram channels, called for participation in protests, produced and distributed leaflets, led the participants, engaged in their preparation and training, reported on the movement of law enforcement officers. The protests disrupted the educational process and the normal way of universities’ work, because young people blocked corridors and stairways, shouted loudly, whistled, chanted slogans and sang songs, the authorities say.

On July , Savetski district court of Minsk announced guilty verdicts in the case. Judge Maryna Fyodarava took heed of the demands by prosecutors Anastasiya Malika and Raman Chabatarou and imposed the following sentences on the twelve defendants:

  • 2 years of imprisonment in a minimum-security penal colony for student Hleb Fitsner (he is the only one who pleaded guilty);
  • 2.5 years of imprisonment in a minimum-security penal colony for students Kseniya Syramalot, Kasya Budzko,Yana Arabeyka, Yahor Kanetski, Illya Trakhtenberg, Viktoryia Hrankouskaya, Anastasiya Bulybenka, Maryia Kalenik, Tatsyana Yakelchyk, university lecturer Volha Filatchankava, as well as Alana Hebremaryam, a Coordination Council member and Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s representative on youth and student affairs.

Students who shaved heads in solidarity with political prisoners put on authorities’ bad books