“Viasna” demands immediate release of Siarhei Kavalenka from jail
Statement by Human Rights Center
Minsk, 11 January 2012
On 19 December 2011 in Vitebsk, in connection with criminal proceedings under Art. 415 of the Criminal Code (evasion of serving punishment of restraint of liberty) the activist of CCP BPF Siarhei Kavalenka was arrested and imprisoned. At this point it he is kept in solitary confinement in Vitebsk, hungering for the 23rd day. His life and health are in serious danger.
Bear in mind that on 14 May 2010 the Kastrychnitski District Court of Vitsebsk sentenced Siarhei Kavalenka to three years of personal restraint without sending him to an open penitentiary institution. Criminal prosecution of the activist started after 7 January 2010, when he hanged out a white-red-white flag having managed to climb up the 40-meter metal construction, symbolizing the New Year Tree in the center of Vitsebsk, before the eyes of many people. He was charged under Part 1 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code (intentional actions grossly violating public order) and part 2 of Article 363 (resistance to law enforcement officials in the performance of official duties).
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" considers the public demonstration and hanging out a white-red-white flag by Kavalenka can by no means be classified as “hooliganism” because there is no exceptional cynicism and sheer contempt for society in it, and the activist didn’t pursue such a goal..
Kavalenka’s deed is a socio-political action which wasn’t aimed at harming public order or the contempt of society.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" considers the repeated criminal prosecution of Siarhei Kavalenka for “evasion from serving the penalty in the form of personal restraint” as a continuation of political repression against him and an attempt to further isolate the activist of the opposition party.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" calls upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Siarhei Kavalenka, to drop the criminal case and provide him with the necessary and urgent medical care.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" reminds the administration of the pre-trial prison and the Belarusian MIA that all responsibility for the lives and health of Sergei Kovalenko falls on them.