Vitsebsk: trial for memorial crosses
Today Vitsebsk district court started trying the case that was brought by Vitsebsk district prosecutor’s office against the head of Vitsebsk oblast branch of Belarusian Popular Front Party Kastus Smolikau.
The prosecutor’s office accuses Mr. Smolikau in self-will that allegedly manifested in installment of crosses in the wood near the vllage of Paliayi where victims of Stalinism were shot in 1930-1950ies.
Vitsebsk oppositionists started setting crosses there 20 years ago. From time to time unidentified vandals destroyed the memorial symbols, but soon some new ones were installed instead. This autumn four crosses disappeared again. The oppositionists filed an application on this fact, but the police stated that it was impossible to find the perpetrators.
On 29 October members of the BPF, the Movement For Freedom and other NGOs installed five new wooden crosses. Mr. Smolikau informed about it Yury Vosipau, head of a local village executive committee. However, the latter threatened to the opposition activist with a trial and filed an application to the prosecutor’s office about self-will on his territory.
As a result an administrative case under Article 23.39 was brought against Kastus Smolikau. The article envisages fines ranging from 70 000 to 350 000 rubles ($24 - 122).