Ales Bialiatski: “Sentence to Alexander Zdzvizhkou is direct violation of the Constitution”
Minsk city court announced its verdict on the case against Alexander Zdzvizhkou, former deputy editor-in-chief of Zhoda newspaper. He was found guilty of violation of article 130 part 2 of the Criminal Code “inciting religious enmity” for reprinting caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. Zdzvizhkou received a sentence of three years of imprisonment in a medium security prison.
The proceedings against Zdzvizhkou and Zhoda newspaper were instigated in 2006, before the presidential election. The former deputy editor-in-chief reprinted caricatures of Prophet Mohammed from the Dutch Jyllands‑Posten newspaper. Alexander Zdzvizhkou was arrested in the end of fall 2007.
Vice-president of International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski thinks, “In our situation in Belarus, when Russian National Unity (RNU) insults Jews with perfect impunity, it is impossible to speak about these caricatures as inciting religious enmity. There is an impression that Belarus is a reactionary Moslem country, because the caricatures were printed in more than 50 countries of the world and nowhere had we seen similar verdicts. In case of Alexander Zdzvizhkou there are bigger reasons to speak about censorship of the press and ungrounded attack on the freedom of expression and the freedom of speech. This verdict is a direct violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus”.