Fine of 40 basic units awarded to a PCB member for a party assembly in Brest District
On 29 August Brest District Court chaired by Judge Mikalai Aliaxeevich Sienko dealt with an administrative case against a Party of Communists of Belarus member A.Novik who violated part 1 Article 167-1 (conduct of an unauthorized assembly). The police officers and then the court viewed as unauthorized an assembly of the organization structure of the PCB to nominate from Brest region delegates to the Congress of Democratic Forces, which was held on 9 July at its legal address.
The name of the renowned Belarusian politicians were also featured in the court materials: S.Shushkievich and A.Liabedzka.
The court did not grant Novik's petition requesting that Mr.Malei appears for him in court.
The reference made by Uladzimir Malei to 62 Article of the Constitution of Belarus "Every person has a right … to use at any moment assistance of lawyers and other representatives in court…", and also the Regulation of the Plenum of the Supreme Court No.1 of 1999 "Apart from the lawyer other representatives allowed by court can appear in court" was ignored by Judge Mikalai Aliaxeevich Sienko.
When the judge saw a Dictaphone in the hand of a journalist and BAJ member Uladzimir Vialichkin, she prohibited the recording in strict terms.
In court Mr. Novik explained that a scheduled assembly was held at the legal address of the PCB branch, which was open and the police officers were not there, so he was surprised that the totally legal event had been classed as an "unauthorized assembly".
Novik was also angry at the police actions after the party assembly: "The police officers attempted to trespass the privately-owned territory (the location of the assembly), residential premises! A man in plain clothes ordered composition of a report to register the passport regime though I live and am registered there! And then, for an unauthorized assembly! Then I was taken to the police station for a third time and after a moral teaching I was released. When I again came back to the house, I saw the police officers "guarding" the cars in my courtyard, then they found fault with the TAVARYSH newspaper which I was holding in my hand. My arguments that the newspaper is legal and distributed even under a subscription plan were overlooked and as a result 600 copies were confiscated, and where they are now I don't know!"
The police officers called to court as witnesses confirmed that they had not attended the assembly itself but saw people in the courtyard, and also referred to numerous calls of vigilant people who pointed out the organizers of the "unauthorized assembly": Novik, Liabedzka and Shushkievich. "We do not have to know the names of the informers, but we must check the information", explained one of the police officers.
A man in plain clothes, who had been giving orders, also testified. He was D.M. Hryka, the head of the criminal police of Brest Regional Department of Internal Affairs. During the court investigation he said: "That you did not see uniformed police officers at the gathering does not mean they were not there."
The court ruling was expected.
Judge Mikalai Aliaxeevich Sienko found Novik guilty of violations by terms of part 1 article 167-1 and awarded a fine of 40 basic units, which is 1 020 000 (one million twenty thousand) Belarusian rubles.
After the session, the HRC Viasna lawyer Uladzimir Malei commented the court hearings:
"First: the judge ignores the Law and violates the procedural standards. He does not allow representatives to attend the process. Witness do not stay in the courtroom after the witnesses have testified. To pass a ruling the judge left for her office, where she can use a telephone.
The case materials presented by the defendant show that there was a party assembly. The court did not find evidence that the party assembly did not take place, the police officers did not attend the assembly and arrived after the assembly was over and everyone had gone home. According to part 3 of Article 3 of the Law "On Mass Events…", the conduct of a party assembly in closed premises is not regulated by the law and is not a violation. So the court decision was ungrounded and illegal, it would be taken to the regional court chair for appeal!
Second: RDIA employees took preventive measures to prevent PCB members from exercising their right to party assembly to discuss their internal party affairs. Today any kind of gathering of people arouse fear of the local authorities, because the party assemblies, according to the law, may be conducted without their permission! So the court ruling illustrates the "whim" of the local authorities: the head of the PCB branch was punished 40 basic units, which is an instrument of scaring the other members of the organization!"
The chair of the Brest Regional Branch of HRC Viasna Uladzimir Vialichkin in turn added: "I am also a BAJ member and know well that I have a right to use a Dictaphone, part 4 Article 271 of the Civil Code of Belarus specifies the use of the technical instruments to be authorized by the judge: "Parties to civil proceedings, present at the open court session, have the right to register in writing or using a tape-recording facility the course of the court proceedings from the places they occupy in the courtroom". The judge knowingly ignores the effective legislation in the presence of many people. After the assembly I saw some of the courtroom people near the Brest DDIA consulting "a man in plain clothes", a deputy head of the DIA of Brest Region D.M.Hryk. I believe that this was "a lesson" to the police officers clothed in plain clothes, a push to action: "Do as you are told, you will suffer no consequences, the courts will cover you up!" After the court I became convinced that: - the law enforcement agencies no longer protect the rights, and the courts try people without trial!"
Mr. Novik is going to appeal against the ruling with the chair of Brest Regional Court.