Comments of Human Rights Activists Concerning Detention of Siarhey Antonchyk and his Friends
In the evening of 5 February riot squad blocked the flat where there gathered people from all regions of Belarus. After the detention all the detainees were taken to the police, where they were forced to give explanations about the gathering. After this all of them were let go, only Siarhey Antonchyk (deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the 12-th Convocation, member of the deputy group that was headed by Zianon Pazniak) received a call-up to court.
After this the correspondent of RFE/RL Aleh Hruzdzilovich asked the member of HRC “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich” and the well-known advocate Vera Stramkowskaya to comment on these events.
Valiantsin Stefanovich thinks that such actions towards Siarhey Antonchyk rudely violate the Constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly to all citizens. According to him, the new edition of the law about mass measures contains some groundless conclusions. “Now even a gathering in a flat is considered as an unauthorized assembly”, -- reminded Valiantsin Stefanovich.
-- The police didn’t explain how they could prove that Antonchyk really held an unauthorized gathering. According to the explanations the detained people gave, they gathered to drink tea and there weren’t any assemblies at all. That’s why we consider these actions of the authorities as absolutely lawless. The police groundlessly detain people not only outdoors, but even in their own flats. It reminds me of the soviet films where revolutionaries gathered in flats, then escaped through kitchen gardens and put samovar on the table to show to the police they drank tea instead of political discussions. It is people’s private affair to gather in flats, discuss and do what think is necessary. They can also discuss the questions of public and political life.
The advocate Vera Stramkowskaya even compared the present situation with the times of the soviet rule, when dissidents were detained during gatherings in flats:
-- Even during the soviet rule one couldn’t be punished for unauthorized gathering in a flat. They tried to find something else, such as anti-soviet activity or propaganda.
Vera Stramkowskaya thinks such actions of the authorities can be connected to the future presidential election:
-- May be, the authorities fear that such activity of citizens will influence the results of the election, -- she said.