In June 2014 a fight happened between the fans of “Partisan” FC (members of which are known to be of antifascism views) and “Torpedo” FC (members of which are mostly neo-nazi) near “Maximus” shopping mall in Minsk.
As the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus stated, in the afternoon of 29 June, in the area close to “Maximus” shopping mall “Partisan” FC fans blocked the movement of trolleybus No. 3, carrying “Torpedo” FC fans.
“Having broken the windows of the trolleybus and damaged the trolleybus itself, the hooligans used tear-gas and fled”— the police reported.
“Criminal proceedings have been initiated in respect of more than 10 football fans based on part 2 of article 339 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus “Hooliganism”. All suspects have been transferred to Temporary Detention Centre and are undergoing inspection activities. Besides recovering the damages incurred upon the trolleybus park, the suspects may be subjected to punishment in the form of deprivation of liberty for the term of up to 6 years” – the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ statement said.
All the apprehended people were then released. It was discovered that they had nothing to do with the incident.
However, in 2015 the proceedings were started again by the Main Department for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption. A series of searches of antifascists’ flats were conducted, Vadim Boyko and Ilya Volovik were apprehended and charged under part 3 of article 339 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. Two more people – Dmitriy Tsehanovich and Fillip Ivanov – were later apprehended. Before their trial they signed the pledge of not leaving the city.
Apart from hooliganism, according to Naviny.by, Ilya Volovik was also charged with violating part 2 of article 193 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. The article stipulated criminal responsibility for “organizing or leading a political party, other public union, religious organization that has not duly undergone state registration, the activities of which is related to violence to citizens or to causing them physical harm or to other attacks on the rights, freedoms and lawful interests of citizens”.
Violation of this article entails responsibility in the form of arrest for up to 6 months or deprivation of liberty for up to 3 years.
For around a year guys were kept in Investigation Temporary Detention Facility and remained obliged not to leave the city. The proceedings themselves were held with multiple violations, some of the hearings were closed. Before each of the hearings Special Police Force would place a special walk-through metal-detector and conducted a personal inspection of everyone present at the hearing.
In the course of the proceedings, “victims” withdrew all claims to antifascist and asked the court not to impose any punishment on them. They also mentioned that the Main Department for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption was pressuring them in the course of investigation. The judge bluntly stated that it is him who had to decide who qualified as “victims” and who did not.
As a result of all this mayhem, the guys were sentences to the deprivation of liberty in colonies of general and enhanced regimes for the terms from 4 to 12 years.
Ilya Volovik was sentenced under part 3 of article 339 as well as part 2 of article 193 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus.
For those following the judicial proceedings as well as for those who knew the people charged, purely political context of this case was obvious.
Police representatives did not hide their “Anti-Maidan” rhetoric related to the events in Ukraine where football hooligans were also part of the leading street resistance forces against police, however those people were far right radicals and neo-nacists.
In Belarus the group that is the most organized and connected in antifa, which made them the target of the state’s repressive regime.
Against the background of tightening of internal and social situation, related to the notorious Presidential Decree No. 1 “On social parasitism” and massive protests against it, state, probably, decided to teach a lesson via this case. The freedom of antifascists appeared to be the price that the regime knowingly and shamelessly paid for the possibility to intimidate anyone willing to speak against it.
This pas has been created with an aim of supporting Ilya Volovik.
Despite the fact that Ilya testified in the course of the investigation which made him lose the support of anarchist and antifascist movements, for a number of reasons we find it necessary to help him financially on behalf of both ourselves and our indifferent comrades.
During the proceedings it became known that Ilya was manipulated by the fact that at the time his then pregnant wife (at the time of Ilya’s apprehension she was in hospital with a threat miscarriage) would give birth in prison. Understanding the danger that such testimony entails for him and his family, he still chose to reveal that he was physically and psychologically pressured by the Main Department for Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption officers, as well as all the threats that accompanied of Ilya’s meetings with officers.
As activists, we find testimonies against comrades unacceptable in any case, irrespective of threats, even threats against close relatives and children. However, as humans, we understand the terror and inner state of the young man who ended up in prison, understanding that his wife and his yet-to-be-born child are under control of unprincipled assholes that would do anything to do what they need to do.
Ilya Volovik suffers from severe health issues and is need of medical examination and treatment as soon as possible (when making prison clothes, a needle got in his arm and doctors have not been able to extract it and now it has capsuled; also Ilya is suspected to have acute pancreatitis). Moreover, during the last half a year Ilya lost his father, who did handle such inhumane treatment of his son and his son’s family; as well as his grandmother whom he will never be able to hug and whom he could not ever bury.
Without any financial support from the movement, Volovik’s family, his mother, wife and daughter are in extremely difficult financial state, owing money to lawyers and barely finding money to send regular packages to prison to a son, husband and father.
That is why we call upon everyone to show solidarity to Ilya Volovik on behalf of his friends and relatives! Do not stay ignorant to disasters that the state causes!