On 14 July, 2022 the Brest Regional Court ruled Yuryi Hantsarevich was guilty and sentenced him to two and a half years to be served at a low security prison. Yuryi was recognized as a political prisoner.
The journalist’s friends and colleagues tell his story.
Even though he has worked at Intex-press for just a bit over a year, he managed to integrate into the team quickly, make friends and show his best. Yura [short form from Yuryi] is into sports, he’s good at shooting photos and videos, so those were assigned to him.
I didn’t contact Yura outside the office, but during the working hours he had good relationships with all the colleagues, he was friendly and never in conflict. Yura is a very calm and unharming person; it’s quite difficult to make him lash out and you would never expect him to be backstabbing, mean or negative in any way. If you needed help, he would always be there for you.
Yura is a sympathetic, honest and kind person. He is also a bit naive — maybe due to his young age or some other reason — and has a very sharp sense of justice. These might have contributed to what happened to him.
I met Yura when we studied at Polessky State University. We shared a block of rooms at a dormitory. In fact, we had a fight right away and then we became best friends.
Yura is straightforward and can tell you any truth, even if it’s not at all pleasant.
Yura is very well-educated, he knows lots of things and can present them in a fascinating way. He is very ambitious, too. Back at uni, he wanted to start his own YouTube channel to speak about tourist places in Belarus. We managed to make a couple of videos. They weren’t perfect in every way we wanted but it was a great experience and very emotional.
His other hobby was KVN [Klub Vesyólykh i Nakhódchivykh or Ka-Ve-En, ‘Club of the Funny and Inventive People’]. He was a member of the team in his hometown and he was successful. He even performed at a republican level.
Yura became a journalist because he liked to make videos. He wanted to learn how to write great scripts, to improve his camera work, video editing skills.
Yura is a cool guy, communicative, honest, sympathetic, he would always help. We met at uni when I was a freshman and he was a third-year student. We both studied tourism [Tourism and Hospitality specialisation at the Faculty of Economy] at Polessky State University.
So we became good friends within the two years we studied together. And we stayed friends even after Yura graduated. It appears, we’ve known each other for about four years. Yura is a plain man, a kind one; there are always things to talk about with him.
He is a great cinema fan. We filmed some sketches at uni and he enjoyed it a lot. Maybe it was one of the things that affected his choice of journalism.
As to the situation he’s in, I can say we, his friends, are deeply shocked. We write letters to him all the time and we hope they reach him. But we haven’t received any response letters yet.
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Beatings, injuries, detentions. Searches, arrests, court hearings, prisons. Website blocks, refusal to print and distribute, revocation of credentials…Read more