Case of journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva heard in total secrecy

Katsiaryna Andreyeva at work in fall 2020/photo from social feeds

The trial of journalist Katsiaryna Andreyeva was held in absurd secrecy. Despite being sentenced to eight years in prison, she held firm, says Ihar Illyash, the husband of the political prisoner.

Euroradio has learned how the trial went, what Katsiaryna said to her husband, and why her article on treason can be applied to almost anything. 

"She noted that she was given even more than Solzhenitsyn"

"Courts usually post information about hearings held there. During this trial, no such announcements were posted. Also, when the verdict is read out, the court's composition, the prosecutor, the defense counsel, and the secretary are usually named. This was the first time I saw a situation where the names of the judge and the prosecutor were not even announced".

I think it shows that they know very well what they are taking part in and what the real price of that verdict is in terms of jurisprudence.

"Eight years is revenge for professional activities," emphasizes Ihar.

Катерина Андреева и Игорь Ильяш / Еврорадио

Katsiaryna's defense plans include appealing the verdict.

Anything can be labeled high treason in Belarus

The atmosphere of secrecy suggests that this is simply another case of a policy that involves convicting people without a proper evidence base and a clear-cut charge, says human rights activist Pavel Sapelka.

"It is clear that human rights defenders know no more about the essence of the charges than anyone else - almost nothing. We draw parallels with the case of political prisoner Dziais Urad, who did not cooperate with the special services and did not jeopardize national security, but simply passed information of public interest to the media".

The legislation allows any relationship of Belarusian citizens with foreign individuals and legal entities, the media, non-governmental organizations and, finally, the governments to be interpreted as treason against the state. This leads to a lack of evidence and the arbitrary nature of law enforcement.

The human rights defender points out that the possibilities for Belarusians to help political prisoners are severely limited, while international actors have done quite a lot.

"All the measures that have been taken against the Belarusian regime must really work, and in the end, I think everything will come to a good result," concludes Pavel Sapelka.

On July 13, political prisoner Katsiaryna Andreyeva was sentenced to 8 years in a penal colony. She was "found guilty of giving state secrets of the Republic of Belarus to a foreign state, international or foreign organization or their representative." 

Katsiaryna was to have been released after her first sentence on 5 September. She was sentenced to two years for doing her job at the Square of Changes. There Katsiaryna and Darya Chultsova were live-streaming the protest.

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