On 9 December, Artsiom Bayarski, a 20-year-old political prisoner from Hrodna, was sentenced to five years in a general regime penal colony on charges of leading an “extremist group”. The trial was closed, but it is known that he was charged because of managing two opposition Telegram channels.
Bayarski was a sophomore at the Department of Chemistry of the Belarusian State University and a four-time scholarship winner of the President’s Fund for the Support of Talented Youth. He dreamed of creating medicines for incurable diseases. In August 2020, Bayarski, like many other students, turned down his presidential scholarship. He was detained for the first time after a protest march a year ago and sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention. After his release, Bayarski reported being insulted, threatened, and beaten on the way to the police station. He was expelled from the university due to this detention.
Bayarski was detained again in March 2021. Police officers beat him with a truncheon to get a confessional video out of him. As in other similar cases, no criminal investigation into the offenders was launched after the beating.
In November 2021, 47 employees of the Russian Academy of Sciences issued an open letter in support of Artsiom Bayarski and demanded his release. In September 2021, he was admitted to the Bachelor’s program in Biotechnology at Kaunas Vytautas University He will be able to continue his studies after his release.
Bayarski accepted the verdict with dignity: he said that Belarus would become a normal country anyway.