Vitsebsk: criminal case brought against Siarhei Kavalenka
As BelaPAN learned from Pavel Seviarynets, co-head of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, Siarhei Kavalenka, activist of the Conservative Christian Party BPF accused of hanging out a national white-red-white flag on a New Year’s tree, has been transferred to a detention facility for two months on order of the prosecutor of Vitebsk.
A case under Article 339 part 2 of the Criminal Code (repeated hooliganism or hooliganism committed by a group of people, or hooliganism connected with disobedience to a person terminating violent actions, or hooliganism connected with bodily harm) was instigated earlier against Siarhei Kavalenka. The article envisages up to six years of imprisonment.
The apartment where Kavalenka and his family live was searched. Militiamen were looking for flags, but found only opposition leaflets Belarusian Solidarity that were seized.
A public committee to defend the arrested oppositionist is being created in Vitsebsk. Its session is scheduled for 11 January 11. ‘This is very serious, taking into account that Taras Surhan, activist of Young Belarus, was detained on 9 January’, Seviarynets said. In his opinion, Kavalenka may become a bargaining chip in trade between the Belarusian authorities and the West.
At noon on 7 January a national white-red-white was hung out at the top of the New Year’s Tree set up in Peramohi Square in Vitsebsk.
According to passers-by and the city dwellers who came to the square with children for Christmas fest or to a skating rink, the 4-meter long white-red-white flag was hung out at the top of the New Year’s Tree near a star. People turned attention to this fact, began to take pictures and video with cell phones.
Police cordoned off the tree and called for emergency service. The flag was removed with the help of a fire truck before eyes of passers-by. A dozen of police cars and special vehicles drove to the square. Even the regional police command visited the site. Police started checking IDs and search people in the square.As it became known later, activist of CCP BPF Siarhei Kavalenka was detained for the white-red-white flag.