Viasna volunteer, sentenced to 5 years and 9 months of imprisonment
Date of birth: 17 May 1996
Date of detention: 2 October 2020
Art. 341 of the Criminal Code — Desecration of structures and damage to property
Part 2 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code — Participation in a criminal organization in any other form
Art. 130 of the Criminal Code — Incitement to hatred
Part 1 of Article 13 and Article 293 of the Criminal Code — Preparation for mass riots
Sentence: 5 years and 9 months
Penalty: imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony
Prison sentence start date: 28 February 2023
Judge: Siarhei Khrypach
Prosecutor: Raman Biziuk
Prison: Penal colony No. 22
Godparent: Katrin Göring-Eckardt, leader of the Bündnis90/Die Grünen parliamentary group in the German Bundestag
Andrei Chapiuk, a Viasna volunteer, was detained on October 2, 2020 in Minsk by GUBAZIK officers. All his activities were exclusively peaceful and aimed at helping people who suffer for their political views and beliefs. On October 9, Andrei was charged under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code, "participation in riots."
On January 28, 2021, the authorities said that Chapiuk, as well as other political prisoners Aliaksandr Frantskevich and Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada, were targeted in a new criminal case under Part 2 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code, "participation in a criminal organization in any other form."
In late November 2021, Andrei was reportedly charged under two articles of the Criminal Code: participation in mass riots (part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code) and desecration of buildings and damage to property (Article 341 of the Criminal Code).
On January 11, 2022, the case file consisting of 160 volumes was transferred to the prosecutor's office.
On April 25, 2022, the trial commenced in Minsk Municipal Court. Prosecutor Andrei Buhuk requested a hearing in a closed session, because “there are materials of extremist nature in the materials of the criminal case”. The judge granted his petition and decided to close the hearing. All attendees were ordered out of the courtroom.
Four and a half months later, on September 6, 2022, Chapiuk was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony and a fine of 18,000 Belarusian rubles (more than $6,300).
On February 28, 2023, the Supreme Court considered the appeals, behind closed doors. The Judicial Collegium chaired by Judge Aliaksei Rybakou, dismissed the complaints of the six defendants. The sentences for Marfa Rabkova and Andrei Chapiuk, as well as for the anarchist movement activists Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada and Aliaksandr Frantskevich were reduced by three months. Thus, the final sentence for Andrei Chapiuk is 5 years and 9 months of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony.
“Criminal prosecution of Viasna members is not related to their work,” authorities responded to the UN request
The website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has published the official response of the Belarusian government to the request of four Special Rapporteurs on the search and detention of human rights defenders, NGO representatives, and independent media, which took place in July 2021.
The trial of Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chapiuk and eight other political prisoners to be held behind closed doors
The trial of ten political prisoners began today in Minsk City Court: coordinator of the "Viasna" Volunteer Service Marfa Rabkova, volunteer Andrei Chapiuk, political prisoners activists of the anarchist movement Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada, Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Aliaksei Halauko, Aliaksandr Kazlianka, Pavel Shpetny, Mikita Dranets, Andrei Marach, and Danila Chul. Ten articles of the Criminal Code are featured in this case, while the investigation files constitute 160 volumes. Judge Siarhei Khrypach was appointed to hear this high-profile case.
The Minsk Municipal Court announced the sentence of ten political prisoners at once: coordinator of Viasna’s volunteer network Marfa Rabkova, volunteer Andrei Chapiuk, activists of the anarchist movement Akikhiro Hayeuski-Hanada, Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Aliaksei Halauko, Aliaksandr Kazlianka, Pavel Shpetny, Mikita Dranets, Andrei Marach, and Danila Chul.