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  • Journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich and doctor Artsiom Sarokin to be tried today. They were greeted with applause

    Doctor of the Minsk BSMP (emergency hospital) Artsiom Sarokin and TUT.BY  journalist Katsiaryna Barysevich were detained exactly three months ago — on November 19, 2020. The Prosecutor General's Office claims, they disclosed a medical secret about the condition of Raman Bandarenka, which entailed serious consequences, namely, " increasing tension in society and creating an atmosphere of distrust of the competent state bodies." Today, their case is heard by Maskouski district court of Minsk. Both defendants face up to three years in prison.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    8 am in Min­sk — ‑22 degrees Cel­sius. The sun is ris­ing above the hori­zon as a large fire­ball — Kat­siary­na loved to pho­to­graph such sun­ris­es from her win­dow before her deten­tion.

    Just after 8.30  the pub­lic begins to gath­er at the House of Jus­tice. «To attend the tri­al of Art­siom Sarokin and Kat­siary­na Bary­se­vich,» they say at the entrance, but the police begins to let them in clos­er to 9 o’clock. Only four uni­formed police­men with met­al detec­tors and three men in civil­ian clothes with walkie-talkies enter the build­ing after show­ing their IDs.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    After 9.00 the fam­i­lies of the defen­dants arrive — Kat­siary­na’s daugh­ter Daria, Art­siom’s wife Natalia and moth­er Hali­na.

    Col­leagues and fam­i­lies of the defen­dants are the first to come to the doors of the court­room. They are fol­lowed by two police­men in plain clothes. One wears a black mask, the oth­er — a bal­a­cla­va.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    9.22. About 40 peo­ple have already gath­ered near the doors of the court­room. Those say­ing at the entrance that they are going to the tri­al of Bary­se­vich and Sarokin are tak­en aside — and only after a while are allowed inside.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    9.38. Euro­ra­dio reports that at the entrance to the House of Jus­tice, unknown peo­ple in plain clothes say that no one will be allowed in, alleged­ly a lot of peo­ple have already crowd­ed the court­room.

    9.40. Ale­na Ban­daren­ka, the moth­er of the deceased Raman Ban­daren­ka arrives. «Of course, I expect to get in the court room, that’s why I’m here. I believe that Kat­siary­na and Dr. Sarokin did not vio­late any­thing, I gave them per­mis­sion. As an opti­mistic per­son, I hope that jus­tice will pre­vail. Although, as the judi­cial prac­tice shows, and even in recent days, there is no jus­tice, » she said.

    Фото: "Наша нiва"

    About 9.45. Kat­siary­na and Art­siom are brought into the room. The audi­ence greets them with applause.

    9.50. Lawyers and rel­a­tives are allowed into  the court­room. Then comes the turn of the media which were accred­it­ed for the tri­al. Jour­nal­ists of inde­pen­dent media were not accred­it­ed to the hear­ing. They don’t call out the names of the media that are allowed into the court­room, — only the names of jour­nal­ists.

    9.55.Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Embassies of the Unit­ed States, Ger­many, France, as well as the EU Del­e­ga­tion also came to the hear­ing.

    «Since the defen­dants are in cus­tody, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them is pro­hib­it­ed,» we hear from the court­room.

    About 100 peo­ple remain at the doors to the court­room.

    The judge is Svi­at­lana Ban­daren­ka, deputy chair for crim­i­nal cas­es of Mask­ous­ki dis­trict court. Kat­siary­na Bary­se­vich is defend­ed by lawyers Andrei Macha­lau and Mikhail Ban­darchuk, Art­siom Sarokin — by lawyer Vol­ha Bat­siuk. The Pros­e­cu­tor is Lud­mi­la Iva­nen­ka.

    Фото: TUT.BY

    10.20. The pros­e­cu­tor requests to close the hear­ing for pub­lic, the defense strong­ly objects: there is a state­ment by Raman’s moth­er, who insists on the pub­lic hear­ing. Katsiaryna’s lawyer says: «Ban­darenka’s moth­er is the only per­son who may or may not con­sent to the tri­al being open for pub­lic.»


    “I want the soci­ety to know why a jour­nal­ist and a doc­tor are stand­ing tri­al, so I sup­port my lawyer’s peti­tion,” says Bary­se­vich.

    Doc­tor Art­siom Sarokin also asks for a pub­lic tri­al.

    10.40 The deci­sion on whether to close the hear­ing for pub­lic is announced. The tri­al will be held behind closed doors: «in order to avoid dis­clo­sure of med­ical secrets pro­tect­ed by law and data from the pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion», and also because «the case mate­ri­als con­tain med­ical doc­u­ments, includ­ing those that have not been pub­lished before.»

    This means that we will not find out what exact­ly they are accused of and what are spe­cif­ic charges against the doc­tor and the jour­nal­ist who told the truth about the state of the deceased pro­test­er. Even their fam­i­lies will not be able to attend the ses­sion.

    What happened

    On Novem­ber 12, Raman Bon­daren­ka died with­out regain­ing con­scious­ness. The night before, he was beat­en by unknown per­sons in the court­yard of the build­ing on the «Square of Changes», where he lived. On Novem­ber 13, the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee report­ed: «dur­ing the ini­tial exam­i­na­tion, along with the injuries, he [Raman Ban­daren­ka] was diag­nosed with alco­hol intox­i­ca­tion.» Almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with this state­ment in a copy of a med­ical doc­u­ment appeared on the Inter­net, from which it fol­lowed that Raman Ban­daren­ka had had zero lev­el of alco­hol in his blood.

    TUT.BY jour­nal­ist Kat­siary­na Bary­se­vich checked this infor­ma­tion and, with ref­er­ence to med­ical doc­u­ments and the doc­tor’s com­ment, pub­lished an arti­cle enti­tled «Emer­gency hos­pi­tal doc­tor: «Raman Ban­daren­ka had zero per mill of alco­hol, noth­ing has been found.»

    The Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office announced the ini­ti­a­tion of a crim­i­nal case on the death of Raman Ban­daren­ka only on Feb­ru­ary 18, 2021. The case against Art­siom Sarokin and Kat­siary­na Bary­se­vich was opened almost imme­di­ate­ly — on Novem­ber 19, 2020.

    They were charged with dis­clos­ing a med­ical secret, entail­ing seri­ous con­se­quences (Arti­cle 178 part 3 of the Crim­i­nal Code). Accord­ing to the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al’s Office, pub­li­ca­tion of infor­ma­tion that on the evening of Novem­ber 11, Raman Ban­daren­ka was sober, «led to increased ten­sion in soci­ety, cre­at­ed an atmos­phere of dis­trust of the com­pe­tent state bod­ies, and encour­aged cit­i­zens’ aggres­sion and ille­gal actions.» At the same time, Ale­na Ban­daren­ka, the moth­er of the deceased Raman, gave her con­sent to dis­sem­i­na­tion of her son’s med­ical infor­ma­tion.

    Katsiaryna Barysevich and Artsiom Sarokin

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