We kindly ask you to pay attention to the case of a Belarusian citizen, artisan, feminist, activist, a mother of six children YULIYA PRASANAVA (case ILTU No. 90010145108 within the Migration Department of Lithuania) and to help “Our House” to stop her deportation to Belarus and to help Yuliya to get a temporary residence permit in Lithuania on the impossibility to return to Belarus to because Yuliya faces political persecution and a long prison term in Belarus due to her protest activities and active civil position.

At the moment Yuliya is illegally staying in Lithuania and she received an official written notification from the Lithuanian migration department that she will be forcibly deported to Belarus. The deportation process to Belarus by the Lithuanian Migration Department can be initiated against her at any moment. Yuliya is very depressed and suicidal because she is afraid of being tortured and dead in a Belarusian prison.

Yuliya’s case description:

YULIYA PRASANAVA is a citizen of Belarus, blogger, artisan, a mother of six children, two of whom are minors. The youngest son is 14 years old, the youngest daughter is 9 years old.

In 2020 Yuliya started following the presidential election campaign and was outraged by the lawlessness and repression, wore a white bracelet to signify her position and participated in protests, white sheets were pasted on the windows at home.

On August 9, 2020, Yuliya sent to several opposition Telegram channels via bots a video of Victor Tsoi’s song “We’re Waiting for Change” playing at full volume in the courtyard. Later, all of these channels were declared extremist, and the data on those who sent these videos became available to Main Directorate of MIA for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption (MDCOCC) and KGB officers, as a current MDCOCC officer was infiltrated into the headquarters of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her structures and got all contacts and information. Several hundred people were arrested and received various terms of imprisonment.

After September 13, 2020, Yuliya continued to participate in protests in her neighborhood (in Kamennaya Gorka). Yuliya and her younger daughter Sonia bought white and red balloons and distributed them to people in solidarity chains.

Since August 9, 2020, Yuliya has been posting on her Instagram profile (at that time her Instagram page had about 20,000 followers) everything that was happening, including videos of violent crackdowns on protesters. She published information about what was happening in the country in social networks. She made reposts from extremist channels NEXTA and TUT.BY. She published information about the collection of fines for detainees. She also transferred money to help pay off fines and help the victims of repressions.

The audience on Yuliya’s Instagram page was very active, and all publications caused resonance and a lot of comments from different people. Among other things, unknown people wrote her explicit threats, telling her to sit quietly, take care of her children and stay out of politics and participation in protests.

As Yuliya was an artisan and took orders, all personal information was freely available on the Internet. It was not difficult for detractors to find out Yuliya’s address and contacts. Accordingly, all the information from her page was passed to the police.

In October 2020, the district’s Telegram chat room wrote that television was coming to the school during lessons. And it was decided to organize a protest action, to come to the school with white-red-white flags. Yuliya was one of the first to arrive. “Autozaks” (dark green colored cars to take protesters to the police station) were already parked outside the school. The entrance was cordoned off. Yuliya broke into the school and at the entrance the director said that the children were taken outside the school and released. Her son did not turn up at home. Yuliya ran around the neighborhood looking for him. In a neighboring courtyard she saw her son running in tears, followed by several riot policemen in riot gear, stomping, laughing and shouting “run, run”. Then they stopped him, pulled him by his rucksack, slapped him, kicked him and only then let him go. The child was very scared, he was shaking. After that, at night he woke up screaming and said that he couldn’t run away, he didn’t have time.

Many people Yuliya knew from social networks and protests had already been arrested, and she realized that sooner or later they would come for her.

On November 12, 2020, Yuliya and her two youngest children left Belarus and arrived to Vilnius, Lithuania.

When moving, Yuliya tried to protect herself and her children. She heard that phones are searched at the border, so she deleted everything she could: all videos and photos, cleaned social networks, unsubscribed from all channels and deleted Telegram, including all evidence of her participation in the protests and all her posts on social networks.

Yuliya has not returned to Belarus.

While in Lithuania, Yuliya resumed her participation in the district Telegram chat “Kamennaya Gorka 3”.

At the end of February 2021, this chat room was hacked by the police and all information from the chat room fell into the hands of the authorities.

On 2 March 2021, all active members of the chat room (30 people), including Yuliya’s good friends, were arrested and charged under Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and active participation in unsanctioned mass events). As a result of searches, all photo and video materials from the courtyard marches, in which Yuliya took part, fell into the hands of the Investigative Committee.

After that, a neighborhood policeman came to the older children who stayed in Belarus and wanted to talk to Yuliya. When he learnt that she had left, he asked to remove the white sheets from the windows. After that Yuliya decided not to publish information about herself in social networks in order not to put the children who stayed in Minsk in danger.

In the spring of 2021, over the course of a week, there was a series of calls to the home phone from strangers. They asked how to contact Yuliya, then the children stopped answering and switched off the home phone.

In February 2022, Yuliya’s husband Sergei travelled to Minsk on business and took Yuliya’s Belarusian SIM card with him. As soon as he switched on his phone in Belarus with this SIM card, calls from unknown numbers started immediately. The same thing happened on the trip in the summer of 2022.

On 6 October 2022, two unknown persons came to the flat in Minsk, where Yuliya lived before and where her older children live now. They did not identify themselves. They wanted to know how to contact Yuliya. Her daughter did not open the door. Then they asked who Yuliya was and asked her name and surname. The daughter answered these questions.

On 28 October 2022, Yuliya’s daughter is informed that she has been fired and is on the KGB’s radar.

Her daughter is still unable to get a job in Belarus because her characterization says that she is “unreliable due to her political views”.

On 20 January 2023, an unknown woman came to the flat in Minsk, where one of Yuliya’s sons lives. She demanded to show Yuliya’s belongings as proof that Yuliya lived there. When she did not receive such confirmation, she threatened her son that she would call the police if he did not give her contacts where Yuliya could be contacted. Under threats, the son gave Yuliya’s Lithuanian phone number. On the same day, an unknown person wrote to Yuliya on Viber and demanded to inform her whether she was in Belarus, in case of refusal to answer she threatened to file a search warrant.

Yuliya made three attempts to apply for a residence permit in Lithuania (spring 2021, 9 July 2021, 17 September 2021), but her request was rejected three times.

After her visa expired and attempts at further legalization failed, Yuliya had a choice – leave her husband and children, return to Belarus and go to prison, or stay in Lithuania illegally.

In spring 2022, “Our House” signed a volunteer contract with Yuliya, after which she started volunteering at the humanitarian warehouse with other women: she sorted clothes and humanitarian aid and distributed it to Belarusian and Ukrainian refugees.

Since 28 May 2022, Yuliya and her younger daughter Sofia started attending classes organized by “Our House” for adults and children: English language, creative classes and classes of Belarusian folklore. Then Yuliya started volunteering at English classes as an interpreter together with Olga Karach, the director of “Our House”.

In August 2023, Yuliya organized a creative club “Sewn Stories” in cooperation with “Our House”. The classes were attended by refugees from Belarus and Ukraine, as well as Lithuanian citizens. Announcements of the club’s classes and reports about the classes were published in social networks and on the website of “Our House”. A small interview with Yuliya was also published in the web site of “Our House” recognized as an extremist web site in Belarus.

Since “Our House” is recognized as an extremist organization in Belarus, the materials of the “Our House” website, Telegram channels, YouTube channels of “Our House” and of Olga Karach are recognized as extremist, and Yuliya Prasanova is a volunteer of “Our House”, when she returns to Belarus, a criminal case “for extremism” will automatically be brought against her, which implies imprisonment for up to 7 years.

While in Lithuania, Yuliya actively participates in actions and rallies in support of Belarusian and Ukrainian refugees. She is one of the leaders of the humanitarian warehouse for Belarusian and Ukrainian refugees, where she sorts, folds and gives out clothes, bed linen, towels, dishes, shoes, toys, medicine, and food to people in need.

In social networks she openly expresses her position and condemnation of the pressure of the Belarusian authorities against peaceful people.

Actively comments on posts of “Our House” deemed extremist on social networks.

On 28 September 2022, Lithuanian lawyer Mantas Danielius, who helped “Our House” as a lawyer in the first half of 2022, was detained in Lithuania by the Lithuanian police. As it turned out, the Belarusian KGB recruited a Lithuanian citizen to spy on “Our House”, accordingly, Mantas knew all the volunteers of “Our House”, including Yuliya, and all these data of our volunteers were transferred to the Belarusian KGB. We assume that Yuliya’s data also got to the Belarusian KGB and she is facing criminal prosecution in Belarus.

In January 19, 2024, the Migration Department of the Interior Ministry of the Republic of Lithuania denied the Yuliya request for political asylum in Lithuania (case Nr. ILTU 90010145108), the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania rejected the appeal against the judgement and upheld it.

The official reason for the refusal of political asylum is that the Department of Migration of Lithuania believes that it is safe for Yuliya to return to Belarus and that she is not in any danger there.

This is not true.

Yuliya faces up to 7 years imprisonment and torture in a Belarus prison for “extremism”.

On June 7, 2024 the Lithuanian migration department sent Yuliya an official notification that she will be forcibly deported to Belarus. This cannot be allowed under any circumstances! Yuliya will end up in a Belarusian prison!

“Our House” kindly asks for your solidarity with Yuliya and to help Yuliya to get a temporary residence permit in Lithuania on the impossibility to return to Belarus.

 

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