The high treason charge against Andrej Hajdukou may be replaced with another one, Valery Vakulchyk, head of the Committee for State Security (KGB), said during a news conference in Minsk on June 19. “It’s not a fact that Hajdukou will stand trial under Article 356,” he said, without elaborating.
Mr. Vakulchyk assured reporters that they would receive all “necessary information” about the trial after it was over, and that only “closed issues” would not be released to the public. He said that Judge Halina Urbanovich would decide for herself when to pronounce her judgment, and expressed confidence that it would be impartial.
Andrey Hajdukou, a fifth-year student at the chemical engineering and technology department of Polatsk State University and a fitter in charge of instrumentation at the Naftan oil refinery in Navapolatsk, was arrested in Vitebsk on November 8, 2012. He was taken to the KGB jail in Minsk and accused of treason. The young man faces 7 to 15 years in prison. Meetings of the court are confidential. KGB spokesman Alyaksandr Antanovich announced on November 13 that Mr. Hajdukou had “gathered and passed political and economic information on the instructions of a foreign intelligence agency,” and that he had been caught in the act of making a dead drop.
The 23-year old Hajdukou says in a letter that he is suspected of offering to gather sensitive information about Belarus for the US Central Intelligence Agency. For more than half a year Hajdukou was imprisoned in Vitebsk KGB detention center, and in the Minsk prison, a place of rather notorious fame where the participants of Ploshcha 2010 were interrogated and tortured. It is also the place of arrest and execution of Konovalov and Kovalev, sentenced to death penalty for organizing Minsk metro blast. So far Hajdukou was not allowed to meet with his relatives. “Viasna” and other organizations fighting for human rights rings alarm as there are serious suspicions that Andrej may be tortured and pressured psychologically.
The KGB claims that Hajdukou’s activities could cause damage to the national security of Belarus and describes them as an attempt to undermine the constitutional system of Belarus and impose a policy that does not meet its national interests. The KGB accuses him of trying to destabilize the social and political situation in Belarus and seeking financial assistance from the CIA through the US embassy in Minsk.
According to representatives of the opposition and human rights defenders, Hajdukou was imprisoned for his political activities. Before the trial has started, human rights defenders and representatives of civil society organizations appealed to the authorities for an open trial, but their requests were not acknowledged.