4 protesters convicted in Minsk, 2 political prisoners released in courtroom
The Frunzienski District Court of Minsk has convicted four people, including two political prisoners, of “organizing actions that grossly violate public order” (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code) over their involvement in the post-election protests of August 2020.
Natallia Astreika, Halina Zaronak and political prisoner Siarhei Shchytsenka were each sentenced to three years of home confinement (“domashnaya khimiya”). Political prisoner Siarhei Bialevich was sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary (“khimiya”).
Both political prisoners were released in the courtroom. Bialevich will remain free until his sentence is upheld in an appeal hearing.
A lawsuit by the government-owned public transport operator Minsktrans demanding 126,103 rubles in damages will be heard in a civil hearing.
The four people defendants were on trial over several events that took place in central Minsk last October. According to the indictment, they were walking on the road and clapping their hands. One of the defendants was carrying a flag. All of them were allegedly well aware that they were attending an illegal protest, expressed “obvious disobedience to the police officers” and “repeatedly refused to comply with the demands to disperse.”
They were also accused of using a Telegram chat to call on other people to join the protests.
Astreika, Zaronak and Bialevich pleaded not guilty. Shchytsenka pleaded guilty in part – to attending the protest, but denied blocking roads. The defendants rejected Minsktrans’s lawsuit.