SYMPA/BIPART expert Tatyana Kuzina was sentenced to 10 years in prison
On 17 March 2023, the trial of experts Tatiana Kouzina and Valeria Kostyugova came to an end. Judge Dina Kuchuk of the Minsk City Court found them guilty under Article 357, Part 1; Article 16, Part 6; Article 361, Part 3; and Article 130, Part 6, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. Tatiana Kouzina and Valeria Kostyugova were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tatiana Kouzina pleaded not guilty. The human rights community recognized Tatiana and Valeria as political prisoners back in the summer of 2021.
The trial was partly held behind closed doors, so only limited information about the substance of the charges is known. The basis of the charge is a “psycholinguistic opinion” regarding written statements contained in a closed expert chat. It should be noted that the methodology used for the examination (psycholinguistic opinion) is not scientifically recognized, and therefore, the conclusions obtained during this process cannot serve as a basis for the prosecution. Furthermore, the cases of Tatiana Kouzina and Valeria Kostyugova contain materials which are not directly related to them but rather to general political events taking place in Belarus after August 2020.
The SYMPA/BIPART team and representatives of the Belarusian and international expert and academic community state that the verdict against Tatiana Kouzina and Valeria Kostyugova cannot be considered anything other than persecution for their professional activities and a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
Tatiana Kouzina was detained on 28 June 2021 at the Minsk national airport while going through passport control. Next day, Valeriya Kostyugova, editor of the "Nashe Mnenie" and "Belarusian Yearbook" websites, was also detained.
Freedom to Tatiana Kouzina and Valeria Kostyugova!
Freedom to all political prisoners!
Part 1 of Art. 357, "Conspiracy or other actions aimed at seizing state power", entails imprisonment for a period from eight to 12 years;
Part 3 of Art. 361, "Calls for actions aimed at damaging the national security of the Republic of Belarus", entails imprisonment for a period from two to five years.
Part 3 of Art. 130, "Incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or hatred", entails imprisonment for a period from five to 12 years.