Press-conference on Criminal Case against Members of Partnership Has Taken Part at BPF Headquarters
On 5 September a press-conference devoted to the criminal case against four activists of the public initiative Partnership took place at the headquarters of the BPF Party. It was attended by two of the activists, Enira Branitskaia and Aliaksandr Shalaika, who had already spent their prison terms, by the human rights activists Liudmila Hraznova and Valiantsin Stefanovich and the former candidate to presidency Aliaksandr Milinkevich.
According to Nasha Niva Aliaksandr Shalaika stated that the main aim of the press-conference was to support Mikalai Astreika, Tsimafei Dranchuk and their families. Minsk City Court is to consider the cassation complaint of M.Astreika and Ts.Dranchuk on 15 September. Mr Shalaika believes that at the trial of the Partnership activists the court grossly violated the criminal process law and issued an unfair verdict.
The people who haven’t been drawn to criminal responsibility before and had palliatives and small children were sentenced to large terms in jail. Mikalai Astreika received the maximal term possible, two years,’ A.Shalaika said. It is an exceptional case even for the Belarusian law. When I was kept in prison in Valadarski Street I found that many of my cellmates had five-six previous convictions and many of them hadn’t been imprisoned before. The activity of Partnership didn’t inflict any harm. Election monitoring is a useful and a necessary thing. May be we aren’t omnipotent, but we will try to get Mikalai and Tsimafei released as soon as possible.’
Mr Shalaika pointed that there were three main pieces of evidence’ against them. One of them was produced on a Gallup blank and allegedly featured the results of the presidential election. It wasn’t considered by the investigation at all. The second blank contained the results of attendance during the early voting at the referendum of 2004 and the signature: ’19 March 2006. Public association Partnership’. The court found that this was doubtlessly an original document. The third blank was signed by the chair of the Central Election Commission Lidziia Iarmoshyna, but I saw it only on TV and it wasn’t mentioned by the investigators either. There was no evidence, that’s why this accusation was set aside, only participation in the activity of unregistered organization’ was left. Frankly speaking, we could as well go planting trees, calling our group Sun and could be imprisoned for that,’ pointed Shalaika.
Mikalai Astreika’s mother Iauhenia Astreika said that after the verdict was read Leanid Iasinovich issued to her a permission to meet with Mikalai once a week. However, on 4 September this permission was annulled. According to her, Mr Astreika doesn’t complain about the prison conditions despite the fact that there are no windows in his cell and has even caught a cold there.
Tsimafei Dranchuk’s father Valery Dranchuk said that the explosive’ that was demonstrated on the Belarusian TV after the arrest of the Parnership activists is to be returned back. We must say the truth in order to win over the false concerning our children that was spread by the state mass media. The case of Parnership is not yet over and we can use it in our favor. Today Tsimokh’s son turns five months. He saw his father only once, when the verdict was read. It is very violent and ruthless. I’d also like to thank to Nasha Niva for printing the mailing addresses of the prisoners in its pages’, stated Mr Dranchuk.
By the way, Tsimafei Dranchuk continues studying at the European Humanities University in Lithuania, because the university’s administration has a good attitude to him. He sends there his works and also writes letters to his relatives every day. That’s how he tries to lead a normal life.