“European Belarus” activists arrested for demanding freedom for political prisoners
Youth leaders Yauhen Afnahel and Maksim Vinyarski were arrested by militia in the evening September 21 for holding a picket of solidarity in Minsk center.
About 10 activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” came to Yakub Kolas Square with portraits of political prisoners Mikalai Autukhovich, Uladzimir Asipenka, and Artsyom Dubski in the evening September 21. The young oppositionists were shouting “Freedom to Political Prisoners!” The picket lasted for 20 minutes. When the participants were going to leave the square, a militia patrol detained youth leaders Yauhen Afnahel and Maksim Vinyarski.
“European Belarus” activists were guarded to the Savetski militia department in Minsk.
Afnahel was released late at night; no reports were drawn up against him. Vinyarski was accused of violation article 23.34 of the Administrative Code and spent the night in a jail in Akrestsin Street. He stands trial in the Savetski district court today.
“Militiamen say I didn’t take part in the picket because I was standing nearby with a camera when the came. But they drew up a report against Vinyarski. Officers of the Savetski district militia department understood they violated the law – standing with a portrait in the street is not an unauthorized mass event. They said they obeyed an order. It is evident that the authorities want to intimidate people, but pickets demanding to release political prisoners will go on,” Yauhen Afnahel told www.charter97.org.
Entrepreneurs Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka were detained in Vaukavysk on February 8. On February 18, the entrepreneurs were charged under article 218 of the Criminal Code (intentional damage to or destruction of property of citizens). On June 23, a criminal case under article 359 of the Criminal Code (a terroristic act) in the form of preparation (article 13) was instigated against Autukhovich and “other persons”, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.
Human rights activists consider the detained to be political prisoners drawing attention to the fact that Autukhovich and Lyavonau were convicted before and recognized prisoners of conscience by the international community.
Lyavonau was released from the pre-trial detention office in Minsk on his own recognition on August 8. All investigating activities against him were stopped.
On July 7, 2009, “Young Front” activist Artsyom Dubski was sentenced to a year in a minimum security penal colony for violation of the rules of serving punishment in the Case of 14.