Closed hearings on "espionage case" against Haidukou being at Vitsebsk Regional Court
At 10 a.m. the hearings on the case of
Andrei Haidukou, 23-year-old Navapolatsk resident, who is accused of
"high treason", started at the Vitsebsk Regional
9:30 am. The guards of the Vitsebsk Regional Court didn't let a correspondent of Radio "Liberty" to the trial of Andrei Haidukou.
Police major told the journalist that Judge Halina Urbanovich decided that the trial was to be lead in closed sessions. The major was unable to answer the question why the order of of the decision-taking was violated – according to the law the court may declare a closed trial after asking the opinions of all the parties, after the beginning of the hearing.
All other people who came to the trial weren't let in the court building either. About ten police officers in civvies stood near the court. Human rights activists Tatsiana Seviarynets and Pavel Levinau arrived to the court entrance. A police car drove in the court yard.
According to Haidukou's counsels (one from Vitsebsk, the other – from Minsk), the trial will be held for 5 days. The surnames of the counsels aren't told to the public.
9:45 a.m. Senior lieutenant Andrei Kamakh prohibited journalists to take photo and video shots, threatening to take them the police department. Tatsiana Seviarynets read a letter received from Haidukou the day before (RFE/RL).
10:21 a.m. One of Haidukou's counsels was let in the court building. Andrei Haidukou may have been taken to the court too. Policemen and people in mufti hampered the work of journalists, prohibiting them to take photos outside the court. Beings asked for the reasons they rudely answered that otherwise the journalists would be detained and taken to the police department. ("Nasha Niva")
No politicians or human rights defenders came to the trial from Minsk. There are three human rights defenders from "Viasna" and the Vitsebsk human rights defender Pavel Levinau (Belarusian Helsinki Committee).
10.37 a.m. The journalists tried to take a comment comment from Pavel Levinau. They were approached by a man who pretended to be deaf and dumb and hampered their work, behaving inadequately and showing by gestures that it was prohibited to make photo or video shots.
Police Major Vital Fralou stated: "I again warn you, it is prohibited to make shots". A police officer grabbed the camera of a journalist of "Nasha Niva". ("Nasha Niva")
11.05 a.m. Pavel Levinau went out of the court building. He stated that the ad board contained a message according to which the hearings on the trial would be held on 12 and 13 June, but didn't mention that the hearings would be closed. Levinau filed a complaint to the head of the court. He also intends to appeal the prohibition on photo and video coverage of the action by journalists to the prosecutor's office.
Volha Haidukova is going to be a witness at the trial of her son. Andrei's lawyers intend to file such a petition at the trial. This is the only chance for the mother to see her son in the conditions of the closed trial. Earlier, she thrice applied for permission to meet with her son and received refusals from the KGB investigator Aleh Barysevich and Judge of the Vitsebsk Regional Court Halina Urbanovich, who was appointed to lead the trial.
Andrei Haidukou's mother also reports about recurrent problems with mail correspondence during the son's 7-month pre-trial detention. Moreover, the counsels weren't always able to meet with Andrei. Volha Haidukova was the only relative who was questioned in the son's case. She doesn't know how many of his friends gave testimonies for KGB.
At a certain period of time, the case included another suspect – an activist of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Illia Bahdanau. However, he didn't stay in this status for a long time and at present has the status of a witness.
In general, the friends and relatives doubt that Andrei Haidukou, an ordinary worker of the Navapolatsk enterprise "Naftan", could be engaged in espionage. First of all, his work was not related to any secret information of national importance. Many people believe that his arrest may be connected to his opposition views: he took part in the work of the electoral teams of democratic candidates during elections, including the team of Andrei Sannikau. He also participated in the "silent protests". Prior to his arrest he was preparing documents to register the civic organization "Union of Young Intellectuals" in Navapolatsk. Immediately after his arrest his home and working place were searched, the same was done to Illia Bahdanau. Though the latter one had the status of a suspect for a certain period of time, he remained at large all the time.
Andrei Haidukou was arrested on 8 November in Minsk. According to the official information of the KGB it was allegedly done "while he was making a hiding with information which could may be relevant to foreign intelligence services". Since then, he was kept in custody: mostly in the KGB remand prison in Minsk with the exception of one month for which he was transferred to the Vitsebsk remand prison, and the last days, when he was again transferred to Vitsebsk for the trial.
According to his mother, a few days ago Andrei was ill and even could solicit for the postponement of the trial. However, now his health is gradually returning to the normal state, though the remnants of the cold are still being felt.
Volha Haidukova repeatedly stated that she wanted the trial to be open, as far as Andrei and his family didn't have anything to hide. She also wants to know for what reasons Andrei is charged with espionage. The same was demanded by human rights defenders.
However, a week before the trial the Chairman of the KGB Valery Vakulchyk stated that the trial would most likely take place behind closed doors. Part 1 of Article 356, "treason to the state in the form of intelligence work", envisages 7-15 years of imprisonment.