Student sentenced to 18 months in prison for insulting OMON chief
The Frunzienski District Court of Minsk sentenced today Illia Tananka, a 19-year-old student at Minsk State Linguistic University, to 18 months of imprisonment for allegedly publicly insulting Dzmitry Balaba, commanding officer of OMON, a special police unit known for its involvement in acts of violence against peaceful protesters.
Tananka was found guilty under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code. The charge stems from an incident of late September when the student reportedly left derogatory phrases on a bulletin board outside the police chief’s apartment. In particular, he wrote that police Colonel Balaba was a “murderer.” According to the defendant, he knew that it was an insult, but wanted to express his opinion.
The court ruling says that Illia Tananka “damaged the officer’s honor and dignity, decried his authority in the eyes of others, and undermined the prestige of managerial activity in the state carried out by police officers.”
The student was convicted despite his confession and public apology.
The ruling may be appealed to a higher court. If Tananka loses his appeal, he will be sent to an “open prison” (known colloquially as “khimiya”). He will also have to pay 1,000 rubles in non-pecuniary damage.