BCD Navapolatsk activists stand trial for taking pictures with Bialiatski’s portrait (updated)
and Siarhei Malashonak, Navapolatsk activists of the Belarusian Christian
Democracy party, are expected to stand trial today for illegal picketing. Local
police says the evidence of the offense are the photos showing the activists
with Ales Bialiatski’s portrait posted on a number of independent sites. Thus,
the situation repeats that of Hrodna, where human rights defenders stood trial
and were fined for doing the same thing.
Yauhen Parchynski was notified of the trial at the police station, where he was summoned by telephone. Siarhei Malashonak insisted that he be sent an official summons, which should also indicate his status and charges in the case. These requirements were regarded as ignoring a summons for interrogation by the town’s police chiefs. As a result, Siarhei Malashonak was detained this morning on his way home, as he was returning from the post office, after sending a complaint of the policemen’s actions.
Siarhei Malashonak was detained ahead of the trial, Yauhen Parchynski must appear in the courtroom himself. Both have been questioned about taking photos with a portrait of Ales Bialiatski. The activists did not conceal the fact that this was done in solidarity with the political prisoner – they were photographed holding Ales Bialiatski’s portraits at the entrance to the Town Court, while Siarhei Malashonak was photographed separately outside the police station.
The photos were posted on the Internet in solidarity with Hrodna human rights defenders Viktar Sazonau, Raman Yurhel and Uladzimir Hilmanovich, who were fined on 5 January “for holding an unsanctioned rally” after similar pictures with a portrait of Ales Bialiatski appeared on the Internet.
Yauhen Parchynski has been fined 500,000 rubles on charges of “staging an unauthorized event.” The case was heard by Chairman of Navapolatsk Town Court Piotr Liauchonak, who said that taking pictures with a portrait of Ales Bialiatski was an administrative offence.
“I did not protest. They asked me if I was photographed with a portrait of Bialiatski and I said I was. I said I did this as a sign of solidarity with him. I told them I posted the photos on the Internet in solidarity with Hrodna human rights defenders who were fined for similar photos on 5 January,” said Yauhen Parchynski, editor-in-chief of local independent web-site www.freeregion.info.
The trial of the other defendant in the case – Siarhei Malashonak – will be resumed on 29 January, as Judge Zoya Balabolava granted the activist’s request for a counsel.
“I am going to prove that our photos were not a public action. We did this for ourselves, and we did not try to attract public attention by doing this. Otherwise, they can convict anyone who is photographed with a portrait of, say, Aliaksandr Lukashenka. As for posting our photos on the Internet, this is not evidence of violating the Mass Events Code,” says Siarhei Malashonak.