Public statement: Human Rights Center
On 31 March 2009 Vitsebsk human rights activist, a founder of the public human rights association Nasha Viasna Leanid Svetsik received charges under two articles of the Criminal Code – fomentation of racial, national or religious enmity (Article 130 of the Criminal Code) and defamation of the president (Article 367 of the Criminal Code).
Human Rights Center Viasna considers these charges as groundless and absurd. In 2006-2007 Leanid Svetsik gave consultations to the people who had received anonymous threat letters on behalf of the Russian neo-Nazi organization Russian National Unity (RNE) and helped them to compose complaints to the prosecutor’s office. The criminal case on the fact of the RNU threats was brought by Vitsebsk and Vitsebsk oblast KGB department only on 20 May 2000. On 23 May a nine-hour search was conducted in the apartment of the human rights defender. The search was sanctioned by the prosecutor’s warrant, in which Leanid Svetsik was mentioned as a witness. In September 2008 the case against Leanid Svetsik was suspended. In March 2009 it was reopened and our colleague appeared there in the status of the accused.
Human Rights Center Viasna considers the criminal persecution of Leanid Svetsik as an attempt of the authorities to discredit the human rights activist and take revenge on him for the public activities.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop the unfair persecution of Leanid Svetsik and the Belarusian civil society – to maximally support the human rights defenders by all legal means possible. We call on the international community to influence the Belarusian authorities with the aim to stop the disgraceful reprisal of the human rights defender.