administrator of Drivers 97% Telegram channel, sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison
Date of birth: 26 February 1982
Date of detention: 4 November 2020
Art. 342 of the Criminal Code — Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them
Art. 411 — Malicious disobedience to the demands of administration of the correctional institution
Sentence: 4 1/2 years
Penalty: imprisonment in a general-security penal colony
Judge: Zhanna Khvainitskaya, Siarhei Maltsau, Stanislau Ivaniutsenka
Prosecutor: Aliaksandr Karol
Prison: Pre-trial detention center No. 3
Viktoryia Kulsha worked as an occupational safety engineer in Minsk.
She administered the Drivers 97% protesters' Telegram channel and chat room. She was arrested on November 4, 2020, by the GUBAZIK (Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption) officers and placed in remand prison #1 in Minsk.
At first, she was charged under Article 361 of the Criminal Code ('Calls for actions aiming to harm the national security of Belarus'). In February 2021, it became known that the charge was reclassified to Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code ('Organization and preparation of actions grossly violating public order').
On June 4, 2021, the Zavodski District Court of Minsk announced the verdict in the trial of the four administrators of the protesters' Telegram channel and chat room Drivers 97%. The court session had been held behind closed doors. Judge Zhanna Khvainitskaya sentenced Kulsha to two years and six months of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony as the prosecutor had required.
On June 13, 2022, the criminal case of Viktoryia Kulsha under Part 1 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code ('Malicious disobedience to legal demands of penal colony administration') was considered. The trial was held in the women's penal colony in Homieĺ, therefore the defendant's relatives were not allowed to attend the court session. Judge Siarhei Maltseu of the Čyhunačny District Court of Homieĺ sentenced the political prisoner to 12 more months of imprisonment in addition to the above two years and six months.
Until the consideration of the appeal, Viktoryia Kulsha was placed in remand prison #3 in Homieĺ. On August 10, 2022, the Homieĺ Regional Court considered her appeal against the decision of the court of the Čyhunačny District Court of Homieĺ and upheld the verdict.
On August 22, 2022, the political prisoner was transferred to penal colony #24 in Zarečča, Homieĺ region.
In 2023, Viktoryia Kulsha was again tried under Part 2 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code, but this time for disobedience to the administration of the penal colony in Zarečča. It is known that upon her arrival at the colony, she was placed in a punishment cell, and then transferred to a tighter security cell. The trial of her began on April 6, 2023, in Rečyca, Homieĺ region. On the next day, April 7, 2023, judge Stanislau Ivaniutsenka found Viktoryia Kulsha guilty and sentenced her to 12 more months of imprisonment. Now the final sentence is four years and six months of imprisonment in a general-security penal colony.