02.07.2007
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Belarusian Student in Court

July 2nd:On the 16th May, Yuras Aleinik, a student at the Management Academy of the President of the Republic of Belarus was informed that he was to be expelled from his university. The background of the expulsion appears to be politically motivated. Exceptionally, Yuras decided to fight for his rights in the court.

Yuras Aleinik, a fourth-year student of the faculty of economics, was summoned to a meeting with the rector of the Management Academy of the President of the Republic of Belarus. As a student with excellent exam results and successfully representing the university in the volleyball team, he was expecting nothing untoward from this meeting.

However, much to his surprise, Yuras was informed that he was to be expelled from the university. The official reason proffered was “violation of the discipline of studies and of the routine”.  According to representatives of the university administration, Yuras missed 36 hours of classes, which was the basis for the rector’s decision. Yuras maintained that he missed only 22 hours, but also underlined that he possessed a certificate proving that he had spent that time in a Minsk hospital. Excellent exam results placed Yuras amongst the best students of the university and he had never been issued any previous warnings.

In but one day, his friends collected 258 signatures in support of his defence. The very next day student signatories were told that they would face problems passing exams unless they withdrew their signatures from the petitions – ‘advice’ which was only followed by 30 signatories. The university administration stated that those students that withdrew their signatures did so once they became aware of the reasons for expulsion.

Yuras is involved in various civil activities. He is an active member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. Moreover, he was collecting signatures against the abolishment of student discounts. The suspicions that this expulsion was politically motivated have a very clear basis.

Yuras’ issue seems to be exceptional since he decided to defend his rights in the court. So far very few expelled students were committed to do so. Tatsiana Khoma, who was expelled from her university just after she was elected to the ESIB (ESU) Executive Committee in 2005, was another one of these exceptional cases. Belarusian opposition media are full of information about Yuras’ case. He is going to have a court trial on July 4th and from a legal point of view, he has a strong case.

At the moment Yuras needs public attention, including international support. ESU calls its partners and member organisations to exert pressure on the university authorities to reconsider their scandalous decision which is a blatant breach of human rights.

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