Belarusian authorities use Article 193.1 against religious organization

2009 2009-06-30T18:53:30+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Minsk city prosecutor’s office brought a criminal case under Article 193.1 of the Republic of Belarus against a representative of a religious organization. 25-year-old citizen of Minsk Yauhen Voukau is accused of activities on behalf of the unregistered Movement of Unity (Mun’s Church).

Human rights activists are concerned with the continuation of the practice of usage of this article.

‘Bear in mind that it is the first criminal case against representatives of religious organizations since 2006, when Article 193.1 came into force. The authorities haven’t used this article for a certain period of time. There existed something like a moratorium on it. The last time the article was used was in the last year, when the activist of the Young Front from Polatsk Katsiaryna Salauyova was tried under it. But now there has been brought another criminal case under this article,’ commented Valiantsin Stefanovich.

‘The Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs has launched a campaign for abolishment of this article. We think that it is a disgrace to have such an article in the Criminal Code. Secondly, it is quite surprising that after the addresses of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the international human rights organizations calling on the Belarusian authorities to abolish this article, it is still used… By the way, Article 193.1 does not demand from the investigative organs to prove that the activities of an organization present any harm. There is just a formal corpus delicti – ‘actions on behalf of an unregistered organization,’ he added.

Bear in mind that the investigator who is dealing with Yauhen Voukau’s case is the senior investigator on the most important cases of Minsk prosecutor’s office S.Hrakhouski, who earlier persecuted the Young Front activists Zmitser Fedaruk, Barys Haretski, Aleh Korban, Nasta Palazhanka and Aliaksei Yanusheuski for ‘activities on behalf of unregistered organization’.

On 20 June the investigator denied the witness Ihar Valiuk in the right to use the lawyer’s services during the interrogation, though he has concluded an agreement with the lawyer Pavel Sapelka. Such refusal rudely violates Article 62 of the Constitution that guarantees each citizen the right to legal assistance for realization and protection of rights and freedoms including the right to use the assistance of lawyers at court and other state organs at any time.