Political prisoners Kireshchanka and Harokh sentenced to 1 1/2 and 7 years in prison
The Court of Navahrudak district sentenced today Dzianis Kireshchanka and Uladzimir Harokh to 18 months and 7 years in prison, respectively, finding them guilty of “organizing riots” (Parts 1 and 3 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code). Both were earlier called political prisoners by the country’s leading human rights groups, including Viasna.
Uladzimir Harokh was also convicted of “insult to the President of Belarus” (Art. 368 of the Criminal Code).
Harokh was detained on August 18. According to the charges he later faced, Harokh had been preparing for mass riots in Navahrudak and several other locations, calling on local residents to join the protests. To do this, he planned and held meetings with people in Navahrudak and Kareličy. According to the official version, Harokh said during the meetings held on August 10 that he was planning to set fire to buildings, resist the authorities and block roads with cut down trees. However, he did not manage to do anything, because on August 7 his activities were exposed and stopped by law enforcement officers. He was also accused of publicly insulting Lukashenka. On August 14, he posted in a local Telegram chat “obscene and derogatory statements”, which contained a “negative assessment of Lukashenka.”
Dzianis Kireshchanka was detained on August 8. According to the indictment, during a meeting held in Kareličy on August 5, he announced the possibility of using telescopic handles as a weapon of resistance, and also demonstrated how to use them. Also, according to the prosecution, he said there were other persons who were ready to take part in the riots and promised reward for joining the protests.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty.