Yury Kastsiuk

extradited to Belarus from Russia; sentenced to four years of imprisonment

Date of birth: 6 December 1997

Date of detention: 25 February 2021

Charges indicted:

Art. 370 of the Criminal Code — Desecration of state symbols
Art. 361-4 of the Criminal Code — Promoting extremist activities

Sentence: 4 years

Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony

Prison sentence start date: 11 April 2023

Judge: Aliaksandr Semianchuk, Sviatlana Kramianiouskaya

Prosecutor: Mikhail Yushchuk, Aliaksandr Batsiushka

Prison: Penal colony No. 8

Yury Kastsiuk is from Brest. He was convicted of 'desecrating the state symbols' (Art. 370 of the Criminal Code).

According to the investigation, on September 4, 2020, Yury Kastsiuk pulled the state flag on the building of the Maladziožnaja Hotel in Brest. As a result, the pole was broken and the flag fell to the ground.

The hotel administration estimated the financial loss at BYN 58 (about USD 25).

On February 16, 2021, Judge Aliaksandr Semianchuk of the Lieninski District Court of Brest sentenced Kastsiuk to 12 months of restricted freedom in an open-type penal facility.

On November 23, 2021, a trial was held to replace the sentence with a more severe one. As a result, Kastsiuk was sentenced to 1 month and 16 days in a general-security penal colony.

Yury Kastsiuk fully served his sentence and was released on January 6, 2022.

On February 15, 2022, Kastsiuk was arrested again. He turned out to be among the participants of the Weekend Volleyball Telegram chat which was recognized as an extremist formation the day before. Kastsiuk was sentenced to administrative arrest, during which he was visited by KGB officers. The political prisoner was severely beaten. The criminal case under Article 361-4 ('Assistance to extremist activity') of the Criminal Code was not closed.

Kastsiuk was put on the international wanted list, and on May 15, 2022, he was detained in Sochi, Russia. To avoid extradition to Belarus, Kastsiuk applied for refugee status. After the denial, he filed an appeal against that decision. Despite the ongoing process, on October 13, bailiffs took Kastsiuk to the airport for extradition. He was beaten on the way to the airport and on the way back. At the airport, Kastsiuk tried to hurt himself and cut his stomach to stop the torture and illegal extradition. He was returned to the temporary detention center for foreign nationals, where his injuries were documented.

On October 16, Kastsiuk was taken to Belarus and placed in pre-trial detention. It is known that he was subjected to harsh treatment there.

On December 7, his case was sent to court.

The trial began on January 10, 2023. The case is tried by the judge of the Brest Regional Court Sviatlana Kramianiouskaya. According to the prosecution, represented by the prosecutor Aliaksandr Batsiushka, Kastsiuk helped other political prisoners: he asked his acquaintances to open a Polish bank card in order to receive money from the BYSOL and By_help foundations, which he then sent to the relatives of political prisoners. He received funds for that financial help from the 'organizations that positioned themselves as human rights organizations'. These actions have been qualified as 'Assistance to extremist activities' under Part 1 of Art. 361-4 of the Criminal Code.

On January 13, 2023, Yury Kastsiuk was found guilty and sentenced to four years of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony. Soon he was transferred to remand prison #6 in Baranavičy, Brest region.

On March 21, 2023, the Supreme Court considered his appeal and upheld the verdict.

On March 24, 2023, the Ministry of Internal Affairs included the political prisoner in the 'List of extremists'.

Mail address: Penal colony No. 8. 211388, Viciebskaja vobl., Orša, vul. Lienina, 195A

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