Deputy Prosecutor General Stuk refuses to say whether charge of high treason against Haydukow has been or will be changed to another one
Deputy Prosecutor General Alyaksey Stuk refused to tell reporters in Minsk on Tuesday whether the charge of high treason against young opposition activist Andrey Haydukow had been or would be changed to another one.
“The case is being heard behind closed doors; I can say nothing about the progress of the proceedings,” Mr. Stuk said.
The closed-door trial of the 23-year-old Haydukow began at the Vitsyebsk Regional Court on June 12.
A week later, Valery Vakulchyk, head of the Committee for State Security (KGB), told reporters that the high treason charge against Mr. Haydukow might be replaced with another one.
"It’s not a fact that Haydukow will stand trial under Article 356,” he said, without elaborating.
General Vakulchyk assured reporters that they would receive “full information” about the trial after it was over, and that only classified information would not be released to the public.
He said that Halina Urbanovich, a judge of the Vitsyebsk Regional Court who presides over the trial, would decide for herself when to pronounce her judgment. “I have no doubt that everything will be impartial,” he said.
Andrey Haydukow, a fifth-year student at the chemical engineering and technology department of Polatsk State University and a fitter in charge of instrumentation at the Naftan oil refinery in Navapolatsk, was arrested in Vitsyebsk on November 8, 2012. He was taken to the KGB jail in Minsk and charged with spying.
KGB spokesman Alyaksandr Antanovich announced on November 13 that Mr. Haydukow had "gathered and passed political and economic information on the instructions of a foreign intelligence agency," and that he had been caught in the act of making a dead drop.
Mr. Haydukow says in a letter from prison that he is suspected of offering to gather sensitive information about Belarus for the US Central Intelligence Agency.
According to him, the KGB claims that his activities could cause damage to the national security of Belarus and describes them as an attempt to undermine the constitutional system of Belarus and impose a policy that does not meet its national interests. The KGB accuses him of trying to destabilize the social and political situation in Belarus and seeking financial assistance from the CIA through the US embassy in Minsk.
As Yawhen Kanstantsinaw, the leader of an unregistered organization called the Union of Young Intellectuals, told reporters in late November 2012, before his arrest, Mr. Haydukow had been threatened by KGB officers with “trouble” unless he abandoned his public and political activities.
Mr. Kanstantsinaw said that he had first met Andrey during so-called silent protests staged in the summer of 2011. “Haydukow was a well-developed and well-educated young man who was interested in politics,” he said. “He then joined our organization and became its deputy chairman. It was thanks to him that our organization was admitted to the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. He maintained contact with many organizations both in and outside Belarus.”
According to Mr. Kanstantsinaw, during the 2010 presidential race, Mr. Haydukow was on the campaign team of opposition candidate Andrey Sannikaw. “After December 19, 2010, he and I were engaged in a campaign of solidarity with political prisoners,” Mr. Kanstantsinaw said.
According to him, Mr. Haydukow started to be persecuted when the Union of Young Intellectuals began preparations to obtain state registration. “We wanted it to be registered in Belarus as an international youth organization for culture and cultural exchanges,” Mr. Kanstantsinaw said. “We planned to have it registered abroad if it was not registered Belarus. In this connection, Haydukow held talks with Russian lawyers. We also planned to establish contact with youth organizations in Poland and the United States, but it was just plans. We didn’t undertake any action.”
“After we started preparing documents necessary for
registration, Haydukow told me that KGB officers had come to his home,
made it clear that such an organization would be unwelcome and suggested
abandoning the registration idea, threatening trouble,” Mr.
Kanstansinaw said. “I proposed discontinuing our registration effort,
but Andrey disagreed.”
High treason carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison under Part One of the Criminal Code’s Article 356 and up to death under Part Two.