All convicts in ‘student case’ transferred to penal colonies

Twelve people involved in the so called student case have already started serving their sentences in penal colonies, the human rights centre Viasna reports.

Alana Hebremaryam, Tatsyana Yakelchyk, Viktoryia Hrankovskaya, Kasya Budzko, Yana Arabeyka, Anastasiya Bulybenka, Kseniya Syramalot, Volha Filatchankava and Maryia Kalenik were placed in the women’s colony in Homiel. Yahor Kanetski was transferred to colony Vitsba-3 in Vitsebsk region. Illya Trakhtenberg – to Mahiliou colony Nr 15, Hleb Fitsner – to Shklou colony Nr 17.

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.

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’).

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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.

In July 2021, 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 Tsikhanouskaya’s representative on youth and student affairs.

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