Vitsebsk: Barys Khamaida is pushed away from Lenin Street 28
Opposition activist Barys Khamaida has been distributing
independent press and held pickets on Lenin Street 28 for more than 20 years
already. He has been many times arrested, imprisoned and fined for it, but
always returns to his usual place. On 6 July the police literary pressed him to
the wall with his table and then charged him with “disorderly conduct”.
Recently police officers have started coming there everyday, demanding that he left the place. The activist thinks it is revenge for his recent picket for election boycott.
Barys Khamaida described the events of 6 July: “In the morning, I hardly came there and put out the newspapers and magazines when the police came and told me to go away. I didn’t agree. Then they went to the head of the shop, near the doors of which I stand. She ran out and started shouting that I must go away as she needed to put out tables and benches there. There have never been any benches and tables there, but I stepped aside. However, she started shouting me to go away at all, then grabbed the white-red-white stripe which is attached here and reached for the “Pahonia” coat of arms. Of course, I seized her by the hand. Then she phoned to the police and told that I wanted to provoke a fight. The police arrived and drew up a violation report”.
The police keep coming to this place everyday since the time when he had brought a poster in support of the boycott of the upcoming parliamentary election, and pose some pretensions each time. For instance, yesterday they stated that he hindered the shooting of a film about Mark Chagall.
“The funniest thing is that a table and some benches have been taken out of the shop and put in the middle of the pavement. They tell the customers will sit there and eat ice-cream. Will they really do it here, in front of the doorway, near a litterbin? I won’t be surprised if they bring two tables tomorrow, so as to completely deprive me of space, but I will try to invent something,” commented Mr. Khamaida.
The activist believes that the boycott picket had a great resonance in the city – no agitation electoral pickets have been conducted in Vitsebsk so far, whereas the boycott campaign has been started by his action.
“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”