Belarus | Week 28 of protests (15–21 February)

Show trials in high-profile cases began in Belarus

21 February 2021 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Source: Voice of Belarus

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On the eve of Lukashenko’s Sochi trip to bow to Putin, a week of show trials in high-profile cases began in Belarus.

Two journalists, Darya Chultsova and Katsiaryna Andreyeva – who had been streaming from the Square of Changes on the day of the commemoration of Raman Bandarenka, who had been killed by security officials – were sentenced to 2 years in a general regime colony. This sentence was akin to a public flogging to make an example of journalists who want to tell the truth.

The trial of journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich and physician Artsiom Sarokin, which had initially been declared open, was suddenly closed by announcement of the judge at the beginning of the hearings. Everyone present, including the European ambassadors, had to leave the courtroom. The case of “divulging medical secrets” is connected with the murder of Raman Bandarenka. The accused ended up on trial due to the fact that contrary to the statements of the official authorities, they wrote the truth – Raman’s blood had contained 0 ppm of alcohol. The accused face up to 3 years in prison.

A trial incredible in its absurdity began in Brest. Aliaksandr Kardziukou, who was with Henadz Shutau when he was fatally wounded in the head on 11 August, ended up in the dock. The victim at this trial is the killer – the captain of the 5th brigade of the Special Operations Forces, Raman Haurylau, who made the fatal shot. The killer confessed right in the courtroom, but the prosecutor requested that the murdered Henadz Shutau be found guilty. Kardziukou, a witness to this murder, faces 10 years in prison.

It is noteworthy that the BYPOL initiative, which conducts many investigations and uncovers the crimes of the official security forces, has also been targeted. A group [of security officers] has even been deployed to Warsaw, where the office of the organization is based, to find out who all the members of this independent organization are.

On 17 February, the trial of Viktar Babaryka, one of Lukashenko’s main rivals in the presidential race in the summer of 2020, began. How this process will end is not yet known… But Belarusian justice, blind and deaf to the facts, does not stand on ceremony with the distribution of harsh sentences today.

The week was also marked by the fact that the authorities breached a Protestant church in Minsk during the prayer. In order to do so, the door lock was cut down and all churchgoers were told to leave the building under the threat of arrest.

Still, Belarusians do not lose faith and hope to preserve their independence, freedom and culture. Many creative actions and flash mobs took place on Mother Language Day, both in Belarus and in other countries.

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