“May I hug my son?”
A student was convicted for the fifth time in a month. The total term of arrest is 71 days.
On Sunday, November 1st, during a march to Kurapaty, a senior student of the BSUIR (Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics) and, as it turned out in court, an ex-employee of the KGB Scientific and Technical Center, Yan Solonovich, was detained. On the same evening, his mother, Olga, says, the guy was taken to the Okrestino Detention Center. The next day, he was sentenced for 12 days imprisonment, but Yan never came out after serving them. Today, November 27th, the Partizansky District Court is reviewing the young man’s case again. Since the beginning of the month, this is the fifth trial against Yan. If you add up his previous sentences with today’s, it turns out that the young man has to spend 71 days in jail.
According to the attorney, Yan’s case is scheduled for Friday at 10:00. The court, says Olga, was supposed to take place on Thursday via Skype, but due to some technical problems, it was postponed.
“Look, this is Yan,” unexpectedly for herself and the attorney, the mother notices her son in the corridor.
The guy looks calm. He asks what is the situation at the university and talks about the terry socks that he found in the package.
“I didn’t need them, but other guys appreciated them,” Yan sends thanks from the inmates.
A young man “in civilian clothes” watches Yan, he has a noticeable radio in his pocket. At the trial, he will introduce himself as Roman Korolik, a district police officer of the Partizansky District Department of the Internal Affairs.
“When I was waiting on Okrestino Street for Yan to come out, I found out Yan was to have a new trial.”
We met with Olga the day before the trial. Mom said that her son is 21 years old. In September, Yan “got a part-time job at the KGB Scientific and Technical Center.” When asked how and why, the woman answered with restraint: apparently, he was recommended as a responsible student.
“My son decided to get to the streets himself,” the mother talks about the young man. He believes that now the country’s situation is such that you need to flee if you want to grow professionally. But why should you flee, it’s better to live here as in Europe. Of course for that, changes are needed.
On November 1st, Olga continues, Yan went on the march. The family has an agreement, if the young man goes out for a “walk” on Sundays, at 18:00 he must be at home. If he is late, the parents will start looking for him.
“It was impossible to reach him by phone. As it turned out, he got hot and took off his jacket, while his phone was in the jacket, which he put in his friend’s backpack. Then he and his friend got separated and Yan was left without the phone. I began calling all the police departments and found out that my son was in the Partizansky one. Later, he was taken from there to the Okrestino Detention Center.”
Olga said that no one in her family or amongst friends had been detained before, so she did not know how to act in such a situation. She searched the word “detained” on the Internet, links led her to the telegram channels of volunteers.
“On November 2nd, I did not go to work and continued monitoring information in the telegram channels,” says Olga. “At 12:50 in one of them, I saw a schedule of court sessions. It said that Yan had a trial at 12:30 for the articles 23.34 and 23.4 of the Administrative Code. I got into a car and rushed there. The only thing that I managed to find out was that my son was given 12 days. After that, I went to Okrestino and found out he was in the Central Inspectorate.”
According to the mom’s calculations, Yan was supposed to be released on Friday, November 13th. At 14:00 Olga arrived at Okrestino and was waiting for her son. Every hour she was approaching an officer on duty: “Is there any news?” In response, she received: “Yan is coming out, just wait.”
“At 19:30, when I approached the officer on duty once again, I found out that on November 10th Yan had a new trial. My son was given 15 more days. During the weekend, I could not eat or drink. On Monday morning, I rushed to court. The office confirmed that Yan, indeed, was given other 15 days under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code.
While I was waiting, I found a service on the Internet, where you can find out the information on the detainees. Olga entered her son’s data and froze. There it was written that on November 18th, Yan had a trial again, again the Article 23.34 — and 15 more days.”
After that, the mother continues, our family decided that Yan needed an attorney. This Monday, Olga says, she signed a contract with one. The attorney immediately went to court to familiarize himself with the case of November 18 and found out that the guy was tried again on November 5th.
“Again the Article 23.34, and again — 15 days,” mom does not hide her emotions.
“Was the lawyer given an explanation of what Yan is being tried for?”
“The lawyer is not allowed to see him. They say it is due to the coronavirus and unavailability of the meeting room. When the attorney began to get acquainted with the case, he found a paper, where Yan wrote how many times he has participated in the protests since August. There were 15 dates listed, which equal to 15 cases. The term for administrative offences is two months, so August was “written off,” and Yan was tried for the rest of the time. According to our calculations, Yan should have eight courts in total.
“According to the requirements of the Code of the Administrative Procedure and Enforcement, the police officer had to file one protocol on the administrative offence indicating seven dates of the violations he discovered or seven protocols for each date and send them to the court in early November,” the attorney Dmitry Pigul explains the situation with marches, which Yan mentioned after his arrest. “The court had to consider all these violations and issue one ruling, in which, according to the rules for adding penalties, determine one term for Yan’s administrative arrest. Moreover, this period cannot exceed 25 days. As a result, considering the 12 days that Yan received for the march on November 1st, the total term of Yan’s administrative arrest (according to two court orders) should be a maximum of 37 days.”
“I haven’t been taken outside or allowed to use the shower for a month already.”
On Friday, November 27th, Yan is tried for the September 27th events. A judge Mikhail Makarevich is conducting the trial. The protocol says that on this day, near the buildings on Pobediteley Avenue, the young man took part in a street procession, which was not allowed by the Minsk City Executive Committee. During this mass event, along with a group of other citizens, he actively expressed dissatisfaction “over the fact of everything happening in Belarus.” Yan admitted the guilt while pointing out that he did not know that the march was not authorized.
“Tell us what happened to you since November 1st,” the attorney Dmitry Pigul turned to Yan.
“On November 1st, I was detained at a rally and taken to the Partizansky District police department,” the young man returns to those events. “There I was asked about my place of work, I told them I was an engineer of the KGB Scientific and Technical Center. After some time, a KGB officer arrived. He showed his ID, and together with a man who did not introduce himself, took me to a solitary room for interrogation. There, he told me conditionally: “Come on, confess, and we will let you go. I am not here to put you in jail”. We talked about the events of November 1st, and I was taken to the central office of the KGB. There, under the pretext of “you would give us explanations and come out tomorrow,” they dictated me a text of a statement addressed to the police department chief. […] When the dates came, another KGB officer entered the room. He was introduced to me as a person who is engaged in the ideological work and human resources department. He asked his colleague who brought me here and if what I am reporting looks like a sincere confession. I asked, why sincere? They told me: you understand, we will check the cameras, and something will come up. After that, I named all the dates when I participated in manifestations. Then they brought me an empty blank for my letter of resignation.”
By the end of the day, Yan continues, he was taken back to the police department, where they filed two protocols for November 1st and sent him to the Okrestino Detention Center
“Did you have access to the secret information during your work at the KGB?” the attorney clarified.
“Yes, but in reality, during the two months I have not received any,” Yan said.
“During that conversation, did the representatives of your employer said that you were a traitor, a spy, although you did not have any rank?” asked the defender.
“Yes, they did,” the young man replied.
“In the complaint of the defender in the previous administrative case, it is indicated that while giving explanations throughout the entire administrative case, you may have had some kind of physical impact or psychological pressure,” the judge Mikhail Makarevich took the floor. “Tell me, do you have objective facts of pressure, the humiliation of honour and dignity […]?”
“I am often left in a cell alone for a long time. I haven’t been taken outside or to shower for a month already,”- Yan replied.
“Do you insist that you sincerely regret that you participated in the street processions and ask to take this into account as a softening circumstance?” continued the judge.
“Yes, I do,” Yan did not deny.
“Information came from the KGB that this citizen took part in the unauthorized mass events”
Roman Korolik, the district police officer of the Partizansky District Department of the Internal Affairs, is a witness in the case. He said at the police he “deals with the protocols under 23.34”. He did not witness the student on the march.
“Information came from the KGB that this citizen took part in the unauthorized mass events along with a copy of the data from the Mayak database, where during the days that Yan named, his phone “was tracked “ along the route of the march,” said Roman Korolik. “Besides, there was his [Yan] explanation.”
According to Roman, he met with Yan at Okrestino after the first administrative process has been started. Along with Korolik, there was another district police officer of the Partizansky District Department of the Internal Affairs. He was the one speaking with the student. Roman was nearby. During the interrogation, the witness continues, Yan “calmly told” about his participation in the mass events, mentioning the same dates he previously wrote down.
According to Roman, he prepared the files on which the courts tried Yan’s cases on November 5th, 10th, 18th — and today.
“When did you find out the evidence of the commissions of all the offences by Solonovich?” the defender inquired about the facts on the marches, in which Yan participated until November 1st.
“Either on November 2nd or 3rd,” the witness replied.
“Then why didn’t you at once prepared the seven protocols or one and send them to court? Instead, every week you sent a separate protocol,” asked Dmitry Pigul.
“We have a lot of people (means cases. — Approx. TUT.BY). I currently handle 150 people — the witness explained.”
After an emotional speech by the lawyer, the judge announced his verdict on Yan Solonovich case without leaving the courtroom, “14 days.”
“To the exit,” Roman Korolik addressed Yan.
“May I hug my son?” Olga shouted to the leaving young men. She did not dare to approach Yan without permission from the district police officer.
“The only thing that I console myself with is that there are a lot of wonderful people sitting at Okrestino Detention Centre now.”
“All this time, Yan has spent in the central isolation centre at Okrestino. Every Thursday I send him packages, but only recently I have realized that I didn’t think to include some paper and envelopes for him. That is why I have not received any letters from him yet,” the mother sighs. “On November 10th, I receive a note from Yan via Viber messenger: “I am fine, do not worry. Please, do not send me sausages anymore. Send cookies, waffles, and programming tutorials.” Another word from my son came this Tuesday. A young man called and said he had been sitting with Yan since November 8th. When he was released and leaving, my son gave him my number and asked him to tell me that he was doing well and that he is very worried that on Thursdays, I wait on the street with packages. He said that I should not come if it is too cold out, because he does not really need them.