WE APPEAL TO BELARUSIAN AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS TO JOIN THE PROTEST CAMPAIGN AGAINST CRIMINAL PERSECUTION OF RABOCHY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF VIKTAR IVASHKEVICH
of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”
against criminal persecution of Viktar Ivashkevich, editor-in-chief of “Rabochy” newspaper
On 11 September Pershamaiski borough court of Minsk will try Viktar Ivashkevich, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Rabochy. He is charged under two articles of the Criminal Code: attempt of the crime under Art.367 part 2 – “Slandering of the President of the Republic of Belarus” (facing punishment of imprisonment of up to 5 years), and Art. 368 part 2 – “Insult of the President of the Republic of Belarus” (maximal penalty – imprisonment of up to 3 years).
The criminal case against Viktar Ivashkevich was initiated in September 2001. He was charged with publishing an article, titled “Thief Must Be in Prison”. According to prosecution investigators, the article contained slander and insult of the President of the Republic of Belarus.
Viktar Ivashkevich is not the first Belarusian journalist, who faces penalties under Art. 367 and 368 of the Criminal Code. Recently editor and reporter of the closed down independent newspaper “Pahonia” Mikola Markevich and Paval Mazheika have been sentenced to 1, 5 and 1 years of forced labor and are now serving their terms.
Human Rights Center “Viasna” states, that by such actions the Belarusian authorities demonstrate contempt for the principles of freedom of speech, right to free receiving and spreading information, right to freedom of opinion and free expression. Criminal prosecution of independent mass media in Belarus proves the going on confrontation between the authorities and the society. Human Rights Center “Viasna” believes, that the pressure on representatives of independent Belarusian mass media is politically motivated and connected with their permanent position of defending democratic values, especially during the election campaign.
Human Rights Center “Viasna” appeals to Belarusian and international human rights organizations to join the protest campaign against criminal persecution of Viktar Ivashkevich by the Belarusian authorities.
You can mail or fax your letters to the following state bodies and officials:
President of the Republic of Belarus
Karl Marx St., 38
Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus
Internaciyanalnaya St., 22
Fax: + 375-172-26-41-67
Fax: + 375-172-26-43-60
Information Minister of the Republic of Belarus
Masherova Ave., 11
Fax: + 375-172-23-92-31
Fax: + 375-172-23-34-35