Weekly review of post-election situation in Belarus (28 March – 3 April)
beginning of the week, several people detained during the street actions of 25
March, Freedom Day, were punished with administrative arrest: Mikola
Dzemidzenka, Iryna Hubskaya, Viktar Ivashekvich, Zmitser Salauyou and
journalist Uladzimir Laptsevich. The criminal persecution in connection with
the protest rally of 19 December 2010 continued as well. One of its
participants, 20-year-old Mikita Likhavid was sentenced to 3.5 years of
medium-security colony. The cases of 7 more accused of participation in the
“mass riot” were passed to court, while some other accused started studying the
materials of their cases. One of them, editor of the Charter’97 website Natallia Radzina, left Belarus. On 30
March the preliminary investigation department of the Minsk City Executive
Committee presented charges under Article 342, part 1 (organization and
preparation of activities that grossly violate the public order, or
participation in such actions) to Andrei Dzmitryieu, Aliaksandr Fiaduta,
Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Nasta Palazhanka, Vital Rymasheuski, Siarhei Vazniak.
There is no progress concerning the freedom of expression, either – the warning
to the private socio-political newspaper Narodnaya
Volia is still in force, and the Avtoradio
FM radio station remains closed, as the Supreme Economical Court reversed its
earlier verdict in its favor.
Politically motivated persecution
On 29 March Natallia Pylkina, Judge of the Partyzanski District Court of Minsk, found 20-year-old activist of the For Freedom movement Mikita Likhavid under Article 293 of the Criminal Code, “mass riot”, and sentenced him to 3.5 years in a medium-security colony. One of the main conclusions is that the separation of Likhavid’s case from the 19 December “mass riot” case is unlawful, as the preliminary investigation of the events of 19 December 2010 still continues and it hasn’t been established yet that there really had been a mass riot, that it had been organized by some concrete persons. Mikita Likhavid became the 8th person convicted on charges of “mass riot”, following Vasil Parfiankou, Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, Aliaksandr Malchanau, Zmitser Novik, the citizens of the Russian Federation Artyom Brest and Ivan Gaponov, and one more Belarusian citizen, Dzmitry Miadzvedz. The position of human rights defenders remains the same: there is no evidence of mass riot. Amnesty International condemned the verdicts to Dzmitry Dashkevich, Eduard Lobau and Mikita Likhavid.
Mikita Likhavid stated the intention to go on a hunger-strike of protest against the unfair verdict. This initiative was supported by a well-known blogger Budzimir, and 49-year-old democratic activist from Orsha, Siarhei Malaletkin (by the way, the police had knocked out several teeth to him during the action).
On 30 March the preliminary investigation department of the Minsk City Executive Committee presented charges under Article 342, part 1 (organization and preparation of activities that grossly violate the public order, or participation in such actions) to Andrei Dzmitryieu, Aliaksandr Fiaduta, Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Nasta Palazhanka, Vital Rymasheuski, Siarhei Vazniak. Some of them started studying the materials of their cases.
At the end of March, the Minsk City Court received the criminal cases of the presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Dzmitry Uss, who are charged with organizing the “mass riot” (Article 293 of the Criminal Code), and Aliaksandr Klaskouski, who is also charged with insulting a representative of the authorities (Article 369) and (unauthorized appropriation of the title or the authority of an official (Article 382). Moreover, materials against four other participants of the “mass riot” case, Dzmitry Bulanau, Artsiom Hrybko, Aliaksandr Kviatkevich and Andrei Pazniak (all of whom are charged under Article 293, part 2) were passed to the Minsk City Procuracy.
On 25 March Aleh Hnedchyk, who used to be a suspect in the criminal case, was presented charges and put in custody.
On 2 April charges under Article 293, part 2 were given to the Young Front activist Ales Kirkevich and
a 27-year-old programmer Andrei Pratasenia. Human rights defenders learned the
surname of one more accused in the “mass riot” case – Yauhen Sakret. He is kept
in custody in the pre-trial prison in Valadarski
Street in Minsk.
As of 31 March, there are 33 accused, 13 suspects and 8 convists in the case.On 31 March evening a Slutsk resident Vadzim Ramanau was detained and beaten in
an apartment in Bialetski Street
Prior to the detention, he had received several telephone calls from the police, who tried to invite him for a talk because his telephone number had been registered in Nezalezhnasts Square in Minsk during the post-election protest rally. The youngster refused to come to them, because he was busy working and passing university exams. He was kept in the Maskouski District Police Department till 5 p.m. He was interrogated in connection with the theft of a computer display from the office of the head doctor of one of the Minsk hospitals. Then he was let go, but his relatives were advised to look for a lawyer.
On 2 April the lawyer met with Siarhei Martsaleu, one of the accused in the “mass riot” case, the head of the electoral headquarters of Mikalai Statkevich, for the first time since 29 December.
On 31 March the editor of the Charter’97 website Natallila Radzina left Belarus. The reason was that she was summonsed for an interrogation at the KGB, at which she could have received official charges and put in custody again.
Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, convicted within the framework of the “mass riot” case, was sent to the penal colony Vitsba, where he is waiting for the consideration of his cassation appeal by the court.
The imprisoned anarchists Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Aliaksandr Frantskevich and Maksim Vetkin study the materials of their cases, after which they will be passed to court.
Mikalai Charhinets, Chair of the National Morality Council, proposed to ban opposition activists to go abroad.
Persecution of democratic activists
On 28 March Iryna Lanchava, Judge of the Leninski District Court, sentenced to 7 days of arrest Uladzimir Laptsevich, a journalist with the BelaPAN information agency detained during the street action in Mahiliou on 25 March, the Freedom Day. Stanislau Shandarovich, Judge of the same court, sentenced to 5 days of arrest another detainee – Dzmitry Salauyou, Chair of the Mahiliou region branch of the Belarusian Popular Front Adradzhenne. Both of them were found guilty of “disorderly conduct” and “insubordination to the police”.
The same day Aksana Reliava, Judge of the Savetski District Court of Minsk, sentenced Viktar Ivashkevich (detained for participation in the 25 March action in Minsk) to 10 days of arrest. Dzmitry Pauliuchenka, Judge of the same court, sentenced to 3 days of arrest another detainee, Iryna Hubskaya. Judge Ina Liaukova sentenced Mikola Dzemidzenka to 15 days of arrest for “repeated organization of unauthorized event within a year” (Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences).
The same day the Leninski District Court of Brest fined a Young Front activist Palina Panasiuk, detained for hanging out a white-red-white flag on 26 March, 700,000 rubles (about $230) for “insubordination to the police” and 70,000 rubles more – for “hooligan actions”.
On 1 April Siarhei Kavalenka, the activist of the Conservative-Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front was released from jail after serving 7-day arrest, but immediately detained again, for “violation of the regime of the personal restraint” to three years of which he had been sentenced for hanging out a white-red-white flag on the main New Year tree of Vitsebsk on 7 January 2010. As a result, he was sentenced to another 15-day arrest term. The activist went on a hunger-strike of protest.
Freedom of word
On 28 March Katsiaryna Karatkevich, Judge of the Supreme Economical Court, turned down the appeal of the socio-political newspaper Narodnaya Volia against the warning issued by the Ministry of Information.
On 29 March the Supreme Economical Court of Belarus left standing the decision of the National Commission on TV and Radio Broadcasting concerning the removal of the FM radio station Avtoradio from the air. Judge Dzmitry Aliaksandrau turned down the lawsuit of the radio station against the commission and abolished the earlier verdict of the court. On 28 March the court also turned down another lawsuit of Avtoradio, against the warning that had been issued to it by the Ministry of Information.
On 29 March the Council of the Belarusian Association issued a statement concerning the increase of the pressurization of journalists.
On 31 March Andrei Skurko, chief editor of the private socio-political weekly Nasha Niva, and Maryna Koktysh, deputy editor of Narodnaya Volia, were interrogated concerning the events of 19 December. The interrogation can be connected to the disappearance of Natallia Radzina.
The International Observation Mission prepared another analytical note illustrating the interference with activities of the journalist community on the part of the authorities.
Natallia Illinich, a teacher of history who had been dismissed from the secondary school in the settlement of Talka for political reasons, lodged a claim with the Minsk Region Court demanding her reinstatement at work. Civil activists from Slutsk called all concerned people to support Natallia and filed applications for authorization of pickets which they intend to hold on 15 April in front of the Pukhavichy District Executive Committee in the town of Mar’ina Horka.
Persecution of human rights activists
Civil activists often tell members of the Human Rights Center Viasna that law-enforcement agencies and secret services pay interest to activities of the Human Rights Center Viasna. They learned it one more from a YouTube video, where a masked man tells about it.
On 2 April about 50 fans of the rock band Lyapis Trubetskoy sang its songs at the entrance of the Reactor club, to express solidarity with the musicians whose recent concerts had been banned all over Belarus. Maladechna human rights defender Eduard Balanchuk advises the band to seek compensation from the people who are responsible for the cancellation of the concert was to have taken place in Maladechna on 5 April.
Torture and other kinds of inhuman and degrading treatment
On 25 March two girls, Kasia Dalidovich and Maryia Kvitsinskaya, were detained and taken to the police station, where they were kicked by a policeman in plain clothes. The activists were detained while trying to hinder the detention of a Young Front activist Mikola Dzemidzenka. The police also tore Kvitsinskaya’s coat and tore away the hood from Dalidovich’s jacket. They insulted the girls with obscene language and threatened to put them in a cell with tramps.
Human Rights Chronicle