In October last year, a video of a dark-haired girl in a green jacket hitting the door of a police minibus circulated on the internet in Belarus. A little later it became known that the incident took place in Vitebsk during a solidarity rally. The car was kicked by the 22-year-old nurse Yulia Kasheverova. In February, the girl was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison under Article 339 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism).

Yulia Kasheverova graduated from the Vitebsk State Medical College last year and at the end of July began working as a nurse in the 103rd Airborne Brigade. Her father, Sergei Kasheverov, is a former military man who moved to Belarus from Ukraine, got married here, and started a family. Since 2013, he has been a lieutenant colonel in reserve. Three months before Yulia’s arrest, her mother died of cancer, which made the girl very disturbed. Yulia’s older brother serves in the riot police forces in the Minsk city. He is worried about his sister. He was due a promotion but not receive it due to her detention. [1]

On the 4th of October, Yulia was going to meet a friend and go to a store. When the girls walked along Moskovsky Prospekt, they saw a column of people, but remained behind it. Yulia involuntarily joined the column while her friend fell behind answering a phone call. Police drove up to the protesters near St. Tatiana’s Church and began detaining one of the men. Angered protesters started protecting him. In response, the security forces started spraying tear gas to deter them.

Yulia saw a person in a red jacket, whom police called the organizer of the rally and tried to detain, falling to the ground. At the trial the nurse said: “He was lying face down, motionless”. As taught in college, Yulia’s first intention was to approach him and provide first aid. She, unsuccessfully, tried to break through the crowd of people willing to help him. The police began dispersing people and lifting the victim from the ground. The girl noted that the security forces acted incorrectly, not in the right way in such cases.

“I have no idea what got into me,” said Yulia trying to explain her actions. “I felt such pain for not being able to help this person. And in response to this I just hit the car. I had no intention of damaging the minibus. I just transferred my emotions to the car at that moment. It started driving away, and I kicked it two or three more times on the right side of the back door. Then I picked up a stick lying around on the ground and threw it after the minibus”.

The nurse has also been accused of tearing off the hat and medical mask from a riot policeman. Yulia did not deny it at the trial. She really had those things in her hands, though, she believed they belonged to the person in the red jacket. After all, it was not a hat belonging to a uniform and the mask had a smiley face on it. [2]

Yulia girl was detained the same day after she turned onto Tereshkova Street and entered the store.

“We received information on the radio that we need to detain a girl in a turquoise jacket who struck a service minibus. We saw her entering the store and waited for her to come out before detaining and transporting her to the regional police department. She behaved calmly, showed us her documents, but said she would not answer any questions without a lawyer”, said riot police officer Maxim Kishkovich, a witness for the prosecution. He also clarified that on Moskovsky Prospekt they detained a person in a red jacket, who, according to the police, was leading up the protest. During the arrest he tried to escape but hit a police car and fell while running away. The nurse is accused of damaging the same car. It is said that she inflicted “either a dent or a scratch” with a scuff in the middle of the door. [3]

“There is a video where one can clearly see everything: she made hits the bus three times, and the dent in the car is 2 millimeters. They also claimed there was damage inflicted on the side doors, which she did not even touch. They first made an organizer out of her, that she took off some mask, but she did not take it off”, said outraged father of Yulia, Sergei Kasheverov.

The riot police officer Aleksey Alkhimovich, from whom Yulia allegedly tore off the mask, also spoke at the trial:

“The crowd was aggressive and shouted. Probably, people wanted to help this man whom we detained. We sprayed tear gas to deter people. Having driven away from there, we got out of the minibus and saw that it had a slightly deformed right rear door. Later I found out – after watching the video – that a girl in a turquoise jacket had kicked the car. She tore off my mask and hat. She also tried to get into the police car. This girl was detained and taken to the police. I made a report about what happened”.

Neither Yulia nor her father are in agreement with this accusation.

“Evidence that my daughter tore off the mask is nowhere to be found. She picked it up near the car, then she dropped it when the gas was sprayed, then she lifted it a second time. We presented all the videos to the court, but the court considered that she allegedly ripped it off. Although none of the riot police officers saw or could confirm this”, said Sergei Kasheverov.

To clarify, the trial began on the 7th of October. Later the case was sent back for revision and the girl was released. On the 9th of October, due to what happened at the solidarity rally, Yulia was fired from her job. On the 20th of October, police came to her home to search it and detained her. She spent five months in a pre-trial detention center, where her father could not even pass to her books she had asked for. [4]

The sentence of 1.5 years in prison for hooliganism may seem harsh to many. However, the prosecutor Vladimir Lobatsky asked for 6 years of imprisonment in a general regime colony. The judge Sergei Budrevich determined the guilt of the girl not under part 2 of article 339 (malicious hooliganism associated with resistance to a person who suppresses hooligan actions, or associated with inflicting less serious bodily harm), but under part 1 of article 339. As a result, the term turned out to be shorter. In addition, Yulia’s family was ordered to pay damages in the amount of 405 rubles. While at the trial it turned out that the amount had more than doubled and amounted to 841 rubles.

We are sure that the 22-year-old girl simply could not have hit the police bus with such force as to seriously damage it. And even more so, the false testimonies of the police officers are incomprehensible. After all, even in the service video, Yulia did not remove the mask from the riot policeman and did not climb into the service car. It can only be hoped and we have to believe that Lukashenka’s lawlessness will soon end so that this 22-year-old girl will not have to serve her sentence until the end.