Minsk: opposition’s action ‘No to Russian Occupation!’ ends with brutal beating, detentions and trials
At 7 p.m. on 8 September several dozens of opposition activists came to Kastrychnitskaya Square in the center of Minsk to mark the Belarusian Military Glory Day (8 September) and protest against the joint Russian-Belarusian strategic military exercises Zapad-2009. The Belarusian democrats believe the forthcoming exercises threaten the independence of Belarus. About 6000 out of 12 500 soldiers, involved in the training, are Russians. The political leaders of Russia have stated several times about possible brining Russian troops to Belarus in case of a threat to Lukashenka’s regime.
About ten opposition activists were preventively detained on the eve of the action.
The action participants unfurled banners ‘Russian Army, Go Home!’ and ‘No to Russian Troops in Belarus!’ and raised Belarusian national white-red-white flags. People made several attempts to get to Kastrychnitskaya Square. But every march with banners was suppressed by the police. Riot policemen in uniform and mufti ran up to the protesters. Police officers snatched banners and beat the people. Oppositionists were thrown to the ground, kicked them and hit with truncheons. Many arrested activists got serious injuries. Girls and women were beaten as well.
Soon there arrived a paddy wagon. About 30 demonstrators were detained and taken to the police station. Here’s the approximate list of the detainees.
1. Alexander Atroshchankau, activist of European Belarus (fined 525 000 rubles (about $185) by judge S.Hanchar)
2. Yauhen Afnahel, activist of the European Belarus (released)
3. Alexander Arastovich (released)
4. Zmitser Bandarenka, coordinator of European Belarus (fined 525 000 rubles by judge S.Hanchar)
5. Zmitser Barodka, coordinator of the European Belarus (fined 875 000 rubles by judge Yasinovich)
6. Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the Young Front (received charges under Articles 17.1 and 23.31, fined 875 000 rubles by Tsentralny district court of Minsk)
7. Harachka (name unknown)
8. Kastus Ivanou (fined 350 000 rubles by judge Kazlova)
9. Viktar Ivashkevich, activist of the BPF Party (fined 350 000 rubles by judge A.Karniushka)
10. Siarzhuk Karpovich, activist of the BPF Youth (tried by judge of Tsentralny district court Kazlova, fined 350 000 rubles)
11. Zmitser Kaspiarovich, political prisoner (released)
12. Anton Koipish (fined 350 000 rubles)
13. Mikita Krasnou (released)
14. Andrus Krechka (fined 175 000 rubles)
15. V.Lemesh (fined 245 000 rubles by judge Svistunova)
16. Alexander Makayeu, entrepreneur (released)
17. Iryna Piatrova (fined 175 000 rubles)
18. Radyion Pirazhkou
19. Alina Radachynskaya (fined 245 000 by judge Svistunova)
20. Aksana Samuilava (released)
21. Aliaksei Sianchyla (tried at Tsentralny district court)
22. Maxim Serhiyets (trial delayed)
23. Viachaslau Siwchyk, oppositional politician
24. Mikalai Spiasiutsau ( fined 350 000 rubles by judge Siamak)
25. Ales Stsepanenka (released)
26. V.Varanetski (Article 23.31, fined 350 000 rubles by Tsentralny district court)
27. Alesia Yakubouskaya (fined 175 000 ruble by judge Yasinovich)
Two journalists suffered as a result of the police actions: Yuliya Darashkevich, photo-correspondent for Nasha Niva, and Uladzimir Kostsin, cameraman for the Polish TV channel TVP. Yuliya was thrown down on the ground, and Uladzimir’s camera was damaged.
Zmitser Barodka and many other demonstrators were guarded to Tsentralny district court of Minsk. Journalists could see Mr. Barodka had broken nose, swollen face and bruises. Nevertheless, doctors were not allowed to examine the arrested demonstrators at the police department. The opposition activists who were standing near the department called an ambulance, but the police twice refused to let the medics in. Instead, the police officers made the beaten people to stand facing the wall for 4 hours.
Zmitser Bandarenka, the arrested coordinator of “European Belarus” managed to tell www.charter97.org that many people had been beaten by riot police and needed medical aid:
‘We were beaten during the detention on the square and then in the police bus, on the way to the department. They kicked people and hit them on the head with truncheons. Some activists were handcuffed. Viktar Ivashkevich is beaten up and Zmitser Barodka’s face is bleeding. Some are semiconscious. I had five blows at my head. Riot policemen and officers of Tsentralny district police department refuse to call doctors. They treat the demonstrator like animals,’ Zmitser Bandarenka said.The following day the detainees who weren’t released after the detention stood trials at Tsentralny district court of Minsk. All three floors of Tsentralny district court were full of riot policemen. Journalists and relatives of the defendants weren’t admitted to the trials. It wasn’t possible to complain to the head of the court about violations of the process legislation, as no one was admitted to him.
All trials were held in virtually closed regime.
10 September, 11.20 a.m. After telephone calls to the reception room of the court Alexander Atroshchankau’s wife and human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich were allowed to make an entry in the complaint book. They stated that there was no information about the judges and the administrative cases they would try, that’s why the people did not know where and when their relatives would be tried. Human rights defenders consider such actions as grave violation of the present legislation and the Constitution that guarantee the openness and publicity of trials.
11.25 a.m. The trials of Siarzhuk Karpovich (judge Kazlova), and Kastus Ivanou started. Viktar Ivashkevich, Lemeshau, Iryna Piatrova and Alina Radachynskaya were judged on the fourth floor.
12.05a.m. Iryna Piatrova received charges under Article 23.31 of the Administrative Code and fined 175 000 rubles. Varanetski was fined 350 000 rubles. All 17 detainees are accused of participation in unauthorized mass event. Zmitser Dashkevich is also accused under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code (disorderly conduct).
12.14 a.m. During the hearings on Siarzhuk Karpovich’s case the judge Kazlova rudely expelled from the court hall the human rights defender and lawyer Uladzimir Labkovch. She stated that there was no room for him, though there were about 20 vacant seats. The police forcedly led him out.