Trial of Siarhei Kavalenka and white-red-white flag in Vitsebsk
Siarhei Kavalenka, an activist of the Conservative-Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front, was detained near the main New Year tree of Vitsebsk (about 40 meters high) on 7 January 2010, for attaching a white-red-white flag to its top.
Following the detention, a criminal case was instigated against him under Article 339, ‘intentional actions that rudely violate the public order, express an evident disregard for the society and are accompanied with violence or the threat of its use, destruction or anientisement of somebody else’s property or are defined by an exceptional cynicism’, and Article 363, part of the Criminal Code, ‘resistance to a policeman or any other person guarding the public order’, which envisage up to 5 years of imprisonment.
On 10 January the Vitsebsk prosecutor sanctioned Kavalenka’s placement to a pre-trial prison for two months. However, on 13 March the activist was suddenly released under a written undertaking not to leave.
Policemen M.Maksimau and V.Palityka, who detained Kavalenka, stated that he had resisted and kicked them, as a result of which they received light bodily injuries. In the case materials it is stated that ‘Kavelenka delivered a blow on Maksimau’s face with his free hand, from which Maksimau dodged.’ As a result, the detainee allegedly tore Maksimau’s uniform. The policemen demanded that Kavalenka be sentenced to pay a large financial compensation to them.
The criminal case was passed to the Pershamaiski District Court of Vitsebsk back on 29 March. At first, the first court sitting was scheduled for 20 April. However, it wasn’t conducted as the judge, Yauhen Burunou, had some urgent personal affairs.
10.39 a.m.: Yan Dziarzhautsau, a member of the Conservative-Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front, Siarhei Serabro, editor of the Narodnyia Naviny Vitsebska web-site and cameraman Uladzimir Staraverau, weren’t admitted to the court hall. Having examined the personal belongings of the latter, a policeman paid attention to his photo camera. He said that a special permission of the Chairperson of the court was necessary to come to the trial with this device.
11.00: Volha Shpakouskaya and Pavel Seviarynets, a founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, were removed from the court hall, because Judge Burunou didn’t like the reaction of the public to the charges that were read by state accuser Zmitser Rudakou. Seviarynets and Shpakouskaya went to the Chairperson of the court, to file a complaint with him.
11.50: There was announced a break till 2.30 p.m. Siarhei Kavalenka solicited for being provided with a translator into Belarusian. The motion was granted on the second attempt only.
2.30: The trial continued in the presence of a translator. Kavalenka moved for allowing photo and video shooting at the trial, which was objected by the police ‘victims’ and the state accuser. The judge dismissed this motion, after which Kavalenka stated a challenge to the judge, which was dismissed as well.
3.10 Kavalenka’s comrade Taras Surhan was removed from the court hall, because the judge disliked the laughter in the court hall and the words of support addressed to Siarhei Kavalenka. The judge demanded that the present youth showed their documents. Siarhei Kavalenka started testifying.