On May 14, Kastrychnitski district court of Minsk started hearing the so called students’ case, in which twelve arrestees are to be tried. Today the riot police have dispersed the people who came to show support for the defendants. At least 14 people were detained.
More than 200 Belarusians gathered in front of the court building on Friday morning. Only relatives were allowed to be present at the trial. Notably, representatives of the state media were also let into the courtroom. A police officer asked everyone to leave, but the supporters said that they would stand until the hearing ended.
A bit later, riot police pushed people back from the House of Justice and started grabbing them. Anatol Lyabedzka, a former leader of the United Civic Party of Belarus, and TUT.by journalist Lyubou Kaspyarovich are among the detainees.
As part of the students’ case, accusations were brought against 12 persons (students Kseniya Syramalot, Kasya Budzko,Yana Arabeyka, Yahor Kanetski, Hleb Fitsner, 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. The imprisoned defendants are 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 September 1, 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.