Minsk court lets detainer stand: Journo, single mother Katsyaryna Barysevich still behind bars

Каtsyaryna Barysevich. Photo: TUT.BY

On December 9, Tsentralny district court of Minsk heard a complaint filed by Katsyaryna Barysevich’s defence lawyer. Earlier, the strictest measure of restraint – incarceration – was applied to the journalist of the popular Belarusian portal TUT.BY.

As judge Tatsyana Akavitaya decided to dismiss the complaint, Katsyaryna remains in custody. The in-force period is unknown; the lawyers had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Based on practice, it may be about two months, i.e. until January 19, 2021.

TUT.BY reporter Katsyaryna Barysevich was arrested on November, 19 after the Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case over allegedly ‘violating medical privacy which entailed grave consequences’ (Art. 178-3) had been opened. If found guilty, she may be sentenced to up to three years of imprisonment.

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In her article about the tragic death of Raman Bandarenka, Barysevich referred to doctor Artsyom Sarokin who gave her medical records which showed that there had been no alcohol in the blood of the victim. Its authenticity was later confirmed by Bandarenka’s mother. Government officials, including Alyaksandr Lukashenka, keep claiming that Raman Bandarenka, who was beaten to death by unknown individuals on November 11, was in a state of intoxication. Both Barysevich and Sarokin were taken to the notorious KGB prison ‘Amerykanka’ in Minsk.

Neither Sarokin nor Barysevich had been prosecuted before, the both Belarusian citizens have a permanent place of residence in the country as well as full-time employment, Their employers and colleagues have given excellent references to them. The judge and investigators are well aware of Artsyom Sarokin’s being a father of three and Katsyaryna Barysevich’s raising a minor daughter alone, but still, the measure of restraint has not been changed.

Belarusian and international human rights watchdogs have recognised Sarokin and Barysevich political prisoners. They consider the persecution to be politically motivated.

Notably, Bandarenka’s murderers have not been found or identified yet. No criminal case has been initiated over his death either.

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