Acquittal and release of Siarhei Kavalenka
On Friday, 16 July, Siarhei Kavalenka was taken to the Pershamaiski District Court of Vitsebsk.
Having considered the police reports against the oppositionist, Judge Viktar Kalbun closed the case because of the absence of corpus delicti.
Mr. Kavalenka was detained on 25 June when an anniversary of the foundation of Vitsebsk, so called 'City Day', was celebrated. He was going to the Peramohi Square where the festive activities took place. The policemen who detained him accused him of using obscene language (a usual accusation during a politically motivated detention in Belarus).
However, Siarhei Kavalenka managed to prove that it was false with the assistance of the witnesses that watched his detention. As a result, the case was closed.
Nevertheless, the activist regards this acquittal as insignificant, as he spent two days in custody till trial. He says that the detention was aimed at preventing him from making actions with red-white-flags during the official festivities.
Bear in mind that Mr. Kavalenka has been sentenced to three years of conditional imprisonment for hanging out a white-red-white flag on the main New Year tree of Vitsebsk on 7 January 2010. Recently, he has been detained by the police for alleged violation of the regime of this penalty (he was allegedly absent from home at the time where he was to be there, though in fact the police prevented him from coming home by keeping him near the porch till it was too late). For this violation he was sentenced to 10 days of arrest and put in prison.
There he started a hunger-strike of protest against the unfair punishments. He drinks only raw water, as the relatives are banned to pass any drinking or mineral water to him.
On 19 July evening Mr. Kavalenka was released from jail. He decided to finish the 10-day hunger-strike and start recovering from it. Siarhei says that he was met by many adherents who are ready to stand for the values symbolized by the white-red-white flag.
’Many guys come up to me and say they are ready to go to a demonstration with me. It is the fault of the opposition that there are no demonstrations. Our people are ready to come out. It would be a furor if the opposition (at least 10 people) was walking around the city with flags. However, they need just foreign grants and discredit our ideas,’ commented the activist.