Belarusian prosecutors seek 11-year prison sentence for Russian national Yegor Dudnikov
State prosecutors in Belarus have asked a Minsk court to sentence 21-year-old Russian national Yegor Dudnikov to 11 years in prison, reports BBC News Russian.
Belarusian authorities opened a criminal case against Dudnikov due to voice-over recordings he did for Belarusian opposition videos. He was charged with incitement to social hatred and appeals to actions harmful to national security.
According to the indictment, from January to May 2021, Dudnikov posted on Telegram “no less than 55 voice messages of a persuasive nature, voiced by him,” with the aim of “escalating tensions and conflicts within society and the state.”
In addition, prosecutors alleged that in a chat group on Telegram, Dudnikov called “for the seizure of state power, the forcible change of the constitutional order, and starting mass riots.”
“Yegor is in shock,” a source told the Russian BBC after the hearing at the Minsk City Court on Thursday, December 23. The verdict in the closed-door trial is expected on Monday, December 27, RIA Novosti reported.
Dudnikov maintains that he never actually took part in the opposition demonstrations that erupted in Belarus after the August 2020 presidential elections. The 21-year-old also says that he was forced to incriminate himself.
Dudnikov’s lawyer Anton Gashinsky told Novaya Gazeta that after the verdict is delivered, the defense intends to file for extradition immediately. “The maximum punishment under the article under which Yegor stands accused is 12 years in prison. Eleven out of 12 years is a lot and it’s unjust,” Gashinsky said on Thursday.
Yegor Dudnikov was initially arrested on charges of organizing actions that grossly violated public order, but these charges weren’t included in the final indictment.
In July 2021, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko publicly named Dudnikov as the moderator of a Telegram channel called “Self-Defense Units of Belarus,” claiming it was created by members of a “terrorist sleeper cell” to carry out a violent change of power in Belarus.