Participant of “People’s Voting” Fined 75 USD
Judge Natalia Tratsiakova fined Siarhei Kushniarou, an activist from Vitebsk, 5 basic units (around 70 USD).
Siarhei Kushniarou was accused of insubordination to police. On March 19 he came to a polling station in Tulava village, Vitebsk region and received a voting ballot. The police was called for by Yury Fiodarau, a representative of the Cossacks’ Association. Fiodarau was an observer at that polling station. Before the police arrived the observer dressed in traditional Cossack’s clothes – pants with stripes and a fur-cap – held Kushniarou by force: he believed that Kushniarou had committed a crime by throwing another paper (not the ballot) into the ballot box.
The police arrived and immediately drew up 2 reports, charging Kushniarou with disorderly conduct and insubordination to police.
Judge Natalia Tratsiakova did not find any facts of disorderly conduct since none of the witnesses could remember that Kushniarou had used obscene language, as it was reported by the police.
Mr. Kushniarou tried to explain the second charge that he was trying to free himself from the Cossack observer who had detained him illegally: “I was already leaving the polling station when the observer in Cossack uniform grasped me from the back. What right did he have to do that? I am a citizen of the country, I am in a public place, at a polling station, and he is not a police officer, he is just a member of an NGO. It turns out that the Cossacks’ statute is more important in Belarus than the Constitution and the laws?”
The police witnesses stated during the trial that they had had to use force towards Mr. Kushniarou and even hand-cuff him because they had the worst suspicions about what exactly he had put into the ballot box. In opinion of Mikalai Laurou, deputy police chief of the district, that could be explosives or even pathogens of anthrax or bird flu: because Mr. Kushniarou has higher medical education.
A self-made ballot paper of the “people’s voting” was taken out from the box and attached to the case. The ballot paper issued by the election commission was taken away from Kushniarou and returned to the polling station. Mr. Kushniarou believes this is a violation of the voting secrecy and the election law in general. He plans to file a complaint to the prosecutor’s office about the actions of the election commission, the police (they did not detain the observer who provoked a conflict) and judge Natalia Tratsiakova who fined him 5 basic units (about 75 USD), reports RFE/RL.