human rights activist, coordinator of Viasna's Volunteer Service, sentenced to 14 years and 9 months of imprisonment
Date of birth: 6 January 1995
Date of detention: 17 September 2020
Part 1 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code — Organization of riots
Part 3 of Art. 293 of the Criminal code — Training or other preparation of persons for participation in mass riots, or financing of this activity
Art. 361 of the Criminal Code — Calls for actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus
Art. 218 of the Criminal Code — Intentional destruction or damage to property committed in a generally dangerous manner or causing damage on a large scale
Part 2 of Art. 339 of the Criminal Code — Hooliganism committed by a group of persons
Art. 341 of the Criminal Code — Desecration of structures and damage to property
Art. 361-1 of the Criminal Code — Creation of an extremist formation, or participation in it
Art. 130 of the Criminal Code — Incitement to hatred
Part 3 of Art. 339 of the Criminal Code — Especially malicious hooliganism
Art. 295-3 of the Criminal Code — Illegal actions in relation to objects which action is based on use of combustible substances
Part 1 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code - Creation of a criminal organization or its leadership
Part 1 of Article 13 and Article 293 of the Criminal Code — Preparation for mass riots
Sentence: 14 years and 9 months
Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony
Prison sentence start date: 28 February 2023
Judge: Siarhei Khrypach
Prosecutor: Raman Biziuk
Prison: Penal colony No. 4
Godparent: Agnieszka Brugger, deputy leader of the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group
Marfa Rabkova is a human rights activist and coordinator of Viasna's Volunteer Service. She was detained together with her husband Vadzim Zharomski on the evening of September 17 and taken to the Minsk office of GUBAZIK (Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption). Their apartment was searched, and equipment, personal money and belongings were confiscated.
Marfa Rabkova was told that she was being detained as part of a criminal case under Part 3 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (training or other preparation of persons to participate in riots, or funding such activities).
On September 19, she was transferred from a detention center to pre-trial prison No. 1 in Minsk.
A number of international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a partnership of the World Organization Against Torture and FIDH), supported Marfa Rabkova and demanded her immediate release.
On February 11, Marfa Rabkova faced new criminal charges of “inciting social hostility to the government by a group of unidentified individuals” (Part 3 of Art. 130) and “involvement in a criminal organization” (Part 2 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code).
In late November 2021, Rabkova wrote to her family to report that she was facing up to 20 years in prison on eleven charges.
On January 11, 2022, the case file consisting of 160 volumes was transferred to the prosecutor's office.
It is known, that Marfa experience health problems during her imprisonment in pre-trial detention center. She went faint at least twice (in June and July 2021). In August and December 2021, she got COVID-19, and also had symptoms of the disease in early 2022.
In addition to this, Marfa suffers from constant abdominal pain and inflamed lymph nodes on her neck. The ultrasound examination was not performed until March 2022 and revealed fluid in the small pelvis in the result. This condition requires immediate further examination both by a surgeon and a gynecologist. Surgery may be needed. Also, Marfa Rabkova's teeth continue to decay and crumble. She is not allowed to visit the dentist for about 9 months already.
On April 25, 2022, the trial commenced in Minsk Municipal Court. Prosecutor Raman Biziuk requested a hearing in a closed session, because “there are materials of extremist nature in the materials of the criminal case”. The judge Siarhei Khrypach 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, Rabkova was sentenced to 15 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 22,400 Belarusian rubles (more than $8,800).
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 Martha Rabkova is 14 years and 9 months of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.
“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.