Medical student imprisoned for 4 years for running protest account on Telegram
Political prisoner Uladzislau Martsinovich, a 21-year-old student at the Belarusian State Medical University, was sentenced yesterday to 4 years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony for creating and administering a Telegram channel called “White Coats”. The Minsk City Court found that this constituted “calls for actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus” (Part 3 of Art. 361 of the Criminal Code).
According to the prosecution, the student used “methods aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country, artificially escalating tensions and confrontation in society, spreading the ideology of extremism, and weakening the sense of patriotism in society.”
In particular, Martsinovich urged healthcare professionals to go on strikes and stage peaceful protests against rigged elections and police violence, a linguistic examination found. The defendant himself, however, argued that he only “informed” his subscribers.
The student was arrested on November 19, 2002 and has spent nearly 12 months in a pre-trial prison.
The trial started on July 15. Martsinovich initially stressed he was innocent, but eventually pleaded guilty, saying that he had to do it after spending nearly a year in detention.