On May 12, 2022, one more woman – activist of the movement “Mothers-328”, Maryna Kiselevich, was added to the list of the Belarusian political prisoners. The woman was sentenced to 4 years of restricted freedom and sent to an open-type correctional facility. Maryna received this term for slandering Lukashenka (Article 367 of the Criminal Code) and insulting Lukashenka (Article 368 of the Criminal Code). Maryna Kiselevich has been under compulsory psychiatric treatment and in the punishment cell of the pre-trial detention facility.
Maryna Kiselevich, for five years, has been fighting for her son Raman Kiselevich, convicted under Article 328 part 4 of the Criminal Code. Raman had 29 years old when he went to prison, raising a daughter. The man was detained on July 26, 2017, on suspicion of drug trafficking. Maryna sounded the alarm when her son did not call at the appointed time and started calling him. He did not answer for around one hour, Maryna called the police. She was told there that Raman was at the Savetski District Police Department.
There is a law in Belarus, according to which a person who voluntarily surrenders drugs is exempt from criminal liability for the crime. Raman confessed to the investigators that he had tried the drugs, and told them where he and his acquaintance had taken them. Thanks to this information, the law enforcers found the girl, who told them where she had taken the drugs. It is how Roman was charged under the most serious part of Article 328 of the Criminal Code, selling drugs by an organised group. On July 27, 2017, the man got visited by an on-duty lawyer, who appeared to cooperate with the investigation. Under pressure from the lawyer, Raman signed a report that contained information he did not know and did not say. Maryna said in an interview that Raman slipped the protocol, and the lawyer told him to sign it.
Maryna terminated the contract with the lawyer and, having collected money from relatives, hired another lawyer. Her son got transferred to the pre-trial detention facility, and Maryna, with the lawyer, made a list of questions to find out what Raman Kiselevich knew about drugs in the first place. It turned out that the man did not know a tenth of what the investigator wrote in his report. He started taking drugs because of problems in his personal life and business – an acquaintance suggested him relax, but Raman did not even know what kind of substance he was taking. Raman enjoyed getting substances for free and started to provide drug delivery services, which fell under Article 328 (1) of the Criminal Code. Raman could have been given two to five years in prison for this but he got sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment under Part 4.
Raman Kiselevich’s case was closed on January 26, 2018. He had hammered out a report and a certificate, a report that he had given everything voluntarily, a document that the information about the cache he and an acquaintance had given when they were arrested had helped the operatives find the person who had organised the cache. However, the investigator withheld this information from the record and executed the documents incorrectly. Maryna Kiselevich sent an appeal to Ivan Naskevich, chairman of the Investigative Committee of Belarus. She said that investigator Kulevski, who was in charge of Raman’s case, committed official negligence and violations in the case, and did not take into account that Raman voluntarily surrendered drugs and went to cooperate with the investigation.
Fighting for her illegally convicted son, Maryna Kiselevich wrote complaints, statements and prepared claims to the prosecutor’s office, investigators and lawyers. At the end of July 2018, a court was held on a lawsuit filed by Maryna Kiselevich against her son’s lawyer, Lilia Kalenikova. Marina said that the lawyer did nothing to protect Roman Kiselevich. “She saw the law being broken and did nothing. Raman was interrogated in a small room on duty. The break between the interrogation and the confrontation lasted about nine minutes, though the law requires an hour. In addition, his lawyer rushed him and did not allow him to read the report. As a result, my son incriminated himself”, Maryna said. In addition, knowing Maryna’s difficult financial situation, the lawyer signed a contract with her and charged her a fee of 460 rubles without informing her that she could work for the first few days at the expense of the local budget. Despite all the violations, the court rejected Maryna Kiselevich’s claim to declare her contract with lawyer Lilia Kalenikova illegal.
On July 18, 2018, Maryna Kiselevich stated about the torture Raman experienced in detention: “After his detention, he was not allowed to sleep, eat, drink, go to the toilet normally. You learn from scraps that many people were afraid to eat and drink because they didn’t take him to the toilet properly. Ventilators are allowed nowadays in pre-trial detention facilities, people do not have enough oxygen there, and they have nothing to breathe. Isn’t this all torture? My son’s teeth have deteriorated catastrophically in a year”. She clarified that Raman’s case was fabricated, and the prosecutor’s office did not supervise as it should be under the law. The judge ignored everything and handed down an unfair sentence. On August 16, 2018, Marina said that Roman had started having problems sleeping. He was drowsy during the day but could not doze off – for this, he could be given an offence and sent to a punishment cell. Maryna wrote a petition to the pre-trial detention facility No. 1 to have Raman visited by a psychiatrist.
In October 2018, Marina Kiselevich participated in a hunger strike outside the walls of the pre-detention centre on Volodarskogo Street in Minsk. She stated that she intended to seek punishment for the investigator and prosecutors whose mistakes in the work keep her son behind bars. She received confirmation that there were mistakes in the documents, which the law enforcers considered insignificant. Maryna tried to obtain a meeting with the prosecutor because her son was not exonerated after he complied with the requirements of the note to Article 328 and voluntarily handed over the drugs and started to cooperate with the investigation. The court ignored this note.
Maryna Kiselevich also suggested to the prosecutor’s office her options for preventing crimes committed under Article 328 of the Criminal Code among teenagers. For example:
– to introduce a register in each educational institution;
– to make parents and teenagers sign that they are warned about criminal liability from the age of 14 under article 328;
– to make a mailing from a cellular operator to all subscribers that an international organized criminal group offers young people jobs on the Internet as anonymous couriers for the delivery of psychotropic substances, to prepare booklets that thousands of young people are jailed for drugs.
On May 23, 2019, a criminal case got initiated against Maryna Kiselevich. The woman got suspected of insulting a public official (Article 369 of the Criminal Code) – she wrote a comment to the prosecutor’s office staff. Police searched Maryna’s home. During this, a laptop and a mobile phone were seized. Maryna refused to testify against herself. She wrote a petition stating that it was illegal, and some witnesses during the search heard that Marina had been threatened to take her away by force by the Investigative Committee. During interrogation, she was subjected to psychological pressure and forced to incriminate herself in the interrogation protocols, threatened with detention and imprisonment. In response to petitions and allegations against the law enforcement officers, Maryna received only rebuffs.
The investigation into Marina’s case did not end until October 2019, five months after it had begun. The investigators decided that the actions of Raman Kiselevich’s mother did not constitute a crime. Experts from the Interior Ministry determined that Marina had used common language in her comment and that there were no insults to the prosecutor.
In 2020, with the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Maryna Kiselevich started writing on her page about the problems related to COVID-19 treatment in Belarus. On March 16, 2020, Maryna took a demand to the Presidential Administration with over 800 signatures. There were the introduction of quarantine throughout the country, the introduction of remote work, a 4-hour working day and a 4-day working week, and the release of people from colonies and pre-trial detention facilities under house arrest. Maryna has regularly publicly criticised the regime for its lack of action on the coronavirus. On March 30, 2020, Maryna Kiselevich stated that she was outraged at the irresponsibility of the country’s leadership over the threat of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country and the lack of statistics on infected people, dead Belarusians and positive tests. Maryna demanded the transfer of power before the next elections to the Prime Minister of Belarus, the adoption of measures appropriate to the danger of the situation in which the country finds itself because of the coronavirus. However, she was, of course, rebuffed.
In August 2020, before the election, Marina filed a complaint with the CEC that Lukashenko’s participation in the presidential election was illegal. She demanded to cancel Lukashenko’s registration as a candidate for violation of article 47 of the Electoral Code (restrictions on campaigning, campaigning for a referendum) and article 73 of the EC (equality of rights and obligations of presidential candidates). Following the refusal, she appealed the CEC response in court.
On March 29, 2021, Maryna Kiselevich openly addressed the judges of Belarus and asked them to recognize Lukashenka as illegitimate and start judging according to the law. “You are judging by wild, moronic, paranoid accusations, standing in the wrong place, clapping in the wrong socks. It’s not important what the investigator has made up in the case materials, the prosecutor doesn’t have pulled everything down, that the investigator has conducted the case illegally, it’s not important that all the lawless actions took place with the tacit agreement of the lawyers. In the name of the Republic of Belarus, you have sentenced an innocent person, to an unjust and illegal verdict based on this nonsense. I understand that you are frightened, you are very much afraid of the impostor, and you are frightened to find yourself in the place where you have illegally sent thousands of people for illegal decisions. But you are so few that you no longer need to intimidate so many people with illegal decisions. I call on you to come to your senses, to stop bullying people, to stop judging people on ridiculous accusations,” Maryna wrote on her Facebook.
On May 16, 2021, Maryna stated that she had lost the trial with the Minsk Regional Bar Association. She demanded to acknowledge that the work to defend Raman Kiselevich had not been done in full and demanded a full refund. Moreover, she was obliged to pay 726 roubles of state duty to the court.
On November 29, 2021, Maryna Kiselevich filed a complaint against Aliaksandr Lukashenka under part 3 of article 357 of the Criminal Code (seizure or retention of state power by unconstitutional means, leading to the death or murder). In her social networks, Maryna openly declared that she demanded Lukashenka’s arrest: “Being afraid to die from pressure, heart failure, from stress, from harassment, to which I am now exposed by prosecutors who violate laws at every step, I considered it my duty to write this application. Of course, I don’t know what the reaction to my statement will be. But the prosecutors, broken so many laws, are already accusing me of standing up for my rights and my son’s rights in the legal field”.
On December 20, 2021, Maryna Kiselevich was tried for allegedly waving her hands, shouting and insulting the employees of Savetski District Prosecutor’s Office of Minsk and not reacting to the remarks of the officials on October 20. Maryna was tried under Article 19.1 of the Administrative Code and sentenced to a fine of 290 rubles. Just ten days later, on December 30, 2021, the punishers broke into the flat where Maryna lived. After that, she was taken to the city emergency hospital in Minsk and then found herself in the pre-trial detention facility. Maryna said that the reason for the new criminal case was a denunciation from a subscriber on social networks. She was put in custody as especially dangerous, suicidal and extremist. When she disagreed, she was sent to a disciplinary cell. For the entire five days, she was there, she went on hunger strike.
After the trial, Maryna Kiselevich got released, but she is without a passport and under house arrest. Soon she will have to go to an open-type correctional facility, which means that her son Raman, who is serving an illegal sentence under Article 328 of the Criminal Code, will be left without support from his mother. Moreover, Marina will not be able to see her only granddaughter, Roman Kiselevich’s daughter. There is no doubt that the illegitimate authorities are trying to break this strong woman, as well as other Belarusian women who are fighting for their children. We wish Maryna the strength and health to survive these unpleasant events and return to her family as soon as possible.