“Treason of the state”: A new verdict for political prisoner Belsat journalist Ekaterina Andreyeva in Belarus
A further 8 years in prison for the young Belarusian journalist who did nothing more than carry out her work as a journalist. With all the cruelty of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, we must not forget the cruelty towards well over a thousand political prisoners in Belarus!
Political persecution began because of professional journalistic activity. Belsat journalists Yekaterina Andreeva and Daria Chultsova were arrested on November 15, 2020 during an online stream of a memorial service for Roman Bondarenko, who was killed in his yard on November 12, 2020. Before the eyes of the journalists, the memorial campaign was brutally broken up, the monument destroyed and brutal arrests made. All of this was broadcast live.
Daria Chutsova and Ekaterina Andreeva became defendants in the case “On the organization of acts grossly violating public order”, Article 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. After 7 days of pre-trial detention, Yekaterina was not released and was taken to the Zhodzina city detention center pending trial.
On November 24, 2020, she was recognized as a political prisoner through a joint statement by 10 organizations including the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, the Belarusian Union of Journalists, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Belarusian PEN Center and others.
On February 18, 2021, Yekaterina was sentenced to two years in prison in a penal colony by the Frunzensky district court in Minsk. The appeal of the judgment was heard in court on 04/23/21 and dismissed.
On March 27, it became known that Andreyeva was given the status of “prone to extremism” in the Zhodzina women’s prison because she refused to admit her guilt before the prison commission and was placed under special control.
New charge and verdict
Yeaterina Andreeva had been in detention for a year and 8 months when on April 7, 22, the family of political prisoners learned that she had been charged with a new charge under paragraph 1 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (“State Treason”), which is a punishment from 7 to 15 years imprisonment was forthcoming.
“State treason” in Belarus is not only the release of state secrets, espionage and defection to the side of the enemy during the war, but also “other rendering of assistance to a foreign state, an international or foreign organization or their representatives in the conduct of activities, aimed at endangering the national security of the Republic of Belarus.”
07/13/22 Consideration of the new charges against Ekaterina Andreyeva was completed in the Gomel district court. As a result, the judge Oleg Khoroshka sentenced Yekaterina to 8 years in a penal colony under part 1 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code (“state treason”). The case went through three trials. The trial took place behind closed doors and the case is classified as classified. Yekaterina’s lawyer remains under a strict non-disclosure agreement and is not allowed to disclose any circumstances, even to close relatives. What kind of “treason” does not even know the prisoner’s husband Igor Ilyash. In the previous case, Ekaterina still has 3 months of imprisonment remaining.