Assistance to former political prisoner Natalia Stepantsova

  • Story

Good afternoon!
My name is Natalia.

In 2021, I was sentenced to a year of “home chemistry” for a comment in the channel “Punishers of Belarus” under Article 369 (Article 369 of the Criminal Code of Belarus — insulting a representative of the authorities). However, the prosecutor considered this punishment soft and filed a protest, after which the punishment was replaced by 2 years of real “chemistry”.

There are 2 kinds of “chemistry”: home chemistry and regular chemistry.
“Home chemistry” is a type of punishment where the convict remains at liberty, but with restrictions. The convict has a schedule for both work and personal activities, including going to the store or throwing out the trash. The policemen can come every day and at any time with a checkup.
“Routine chemistry” is a type of punishment where the convict is sent to an open correctional facility. People live in housing units similar to dormitories. They are under constant supervision and are obliged to fulfill the rules of internal order, while paying for accommodation, buying food at their own expense, cooking, washing and cleaning themselves. At the same time, all convicts are required to work, and are often assigned to low-skilled and low-paid labor.
BYSOL Note

At the beginning of December 2023, my prison term was to end. It seemed that here it was — freedom, so long-awaited and natural. However, I did not take into account that I was in a country where justice and the law do not work in relation to political prisoners. Two days before my release my relatives informed me that my house had been searched. When I was released, I learned that a new criminal case was opened against me under articles 356, 357 and 368 (article 356 of the Criminal Code — treason against the state, 357 — conspiracy or other actions to seize state power, 361 — call for sanctions), and that I was facing a new sentence of 15 years. And a little later, all my accounts were blocked, so I was left without funds.

Realizing that they were trying to deprive me of my freedom again, I decided to flee the country. With the support of the BYSOL team, I traveled to another country. But the problem: because of the emergency departure, I have no job and almost no money. In order to get a job, I need to tighten my English and take re-training courses.

I ask for your help, because if I can't solve my problems quickly, I will be forced to return to Belarus, where prison is most likely waiting for me.

How much is needed?

€2450

€1000 — accommodation for a month (including the mandatory deposit)
€300 — food
€750 — language courses
€350 — conversion courses
€250 — safety cushion

Сollected:
€ 2 751 in 2 450