Updated at 21:55,22-01-2020

College student under KGB pressure over political activism

Zmicier Lukashuk, Euroradio

College student under KGB pressure over political activism
Vadzim Babin, photo from his Facebook page
On October 25, Minsk State Technological College student Vadzim Babin was called to the office of the director where he was to have a conversation with a KGB agent.

“I think this is all because of my participation in Yuras Hubarevich (Movement for Freedom chairman who ran for parliament earlier this year) election campaign. I was an observer and went to Kyiv to represent Movement for Freedom at a marathon," says Vadzim Babin.

According to the student, the KGB officer wanted to know how much Vadzim and other activists were paid for their services in Hubarevich's election campaign. He also asked about the Kyiv marathon - or to be more exact how much alcohol was consumed by Movement activists during the trip.

Vadzim Babin says their conversation ended with the officer advising him to stop participating in the Movement for Freedom. The officer hinted that exams were coming up in April but if he did not suspend his involvement with the Movement, he would face problems.

Euroradio reporter asked Vadzim bluntly if he perhaps could be expelled from college for poor performance or class skipping and not over his political activism.

“I am doing quite well. My average mark is 7 (out of 10). I do not skip classes. But you know exams are around the corner and no one can know everything…" replies Vadzim.

Alena Migura, head of mechanics and technical department at the college, admits frankly: a KGB officer came and had a conversation with Vadzim Babin indeed. However, she denies there was any pressure on the youngster. Rather, it was an "educational and preventive talk," in her words.

“He studies well and does not skip classes. He is a smart guy. But he may have chosen a wrong company and wrong people. I tried to talk to him and explain that living in your own state it is not right to spit into the plate you are eating from. You study in a state-owned institution. You live in a dormitory and pay peanuts for this. You get a stipend from the state. And yet you make some actions against the state! The officer talked to him in a similar manner. He tried to explain him that the people he deal with are not reliable. And he as a student should not have relations with them!” the educator told Euroradio.

In her words, the KGB officer visits the college quite often but there is nothing wrong in the fact that special services are interested in public and political activities of students.

“He did not accuse him of violating the law. He only tried to find out if he acted for money or not," says Alena Migura.

She stressed that nobody is going to expel the youngster for his views and political activities. She even got offended by such suspicion.

“I am an adult. How could I even lower myself to some kind of revenge for political views that differ?” laments the educator.

And asks a counter question: “How can a student get expelled if he performs well and does not skip classes?”