‘Santa Clauses’ surrender to prosecutor’s office on grounds of Article 193.1
Members of the liquidated Human Rights Center Viasna were among those who took part in the procession of Santa Clauses to the office of the prosecutor general of Belarus. By this unusual representatives of many unregistered civil associations wanted to remind the authorities about Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code that envisages criminal persecution for activities on behalf of unregistered organizations.
They passed to the prosecutor general an official confession about activities on behalf of the unregistered organization of Santa Clauses and ask to give the legal evaluation to their activities. Among those who passed the confession there were members of the Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, BPF Youth, etc.
The statement was signed by famous Belarusian human rights defender. In particular, Valer Shchukin said he was ‘ready to serve punishment for being Santa Claus’. The lawyer Yury Chavusau said Article 193.1 was absurd and must be cancelled. The human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich said the action was aimed at showing inadmissibility of Article 193.1 in modern society, as this article envisages responsibility for any group of people.
The document was registered by the responsible official of the office of the prosecutor general. During the action the guards of the prosecutor’s office rudely demanded that the present photo correspondents showed the photos and then told them to erase the photos of the building of the prosecutor’s office in Internatsyianalnaya Street in Minsk.
The human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich said that in such a way civil society activists were trying to attract the public attention to the existence of Article 193.1 in the Criminal Code. ‘We, Santa Clauses, have been systematically holding mass events in different cities of Belarus, handing out literary editions to adults and minors, but found out that such activities are banned by the Belarusian laws’, said Valiantsin Stefanovich.
The action was held within the frames of the campaign Stop 193.1, launched by the Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs of Belarus.