Homel activists charged with arbitrariness
On 18 August, Vasil Paliakou, chair of UCP Homel regional office, was officially charged with arbitrariness during the 26 July rally marking the 20th anniversary of Belarusian independence. The police say other participants of the event will be prosecuted under civil procedures.
‘I appealed our illegal arrest. Then I was summoned to the police station. I though they wanted to speak about my complaint. However, it turned out they decided to punish me, not the policemen. The charges are trivial, I am accused of activities on behalf of an unregistered organization, since we distributed leaflets on behalf of the Coordination Council of the United Pro-Democratic Forces. Still, I do not understand what ‘arbitrariness’ has to do with all that,’ says Vasil Paliakou.
Another participant of the rally human rights activist Anatol Paplauny is also charged with arbitrariness, Article 23.39 of the Civil Code, and may face a fine of up to BYR 700,000.
The charges have never been used against civil society activists before. Experts say the authorities are beginning to apply new instruments of civil prosecution ahead of the forthcoming presidential election.