Two Vitsebsk activists to be tried for protest against construction of Nuclear Power Plant

2013 2013-05-08T16:40:25+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

A member of the Conservative-Christian Party "Belarusian Popular Front" Vital Kavalenka was charged with violating the Law on Mass Events. A week ago similar charges were given to his alley Yan Dziarzhautsau.

On 26 April Dziarzhautsau and Kavalenka had come to the center of Vitsebsk with the posters "Only an enemy of Belarus can construct an NPP without the people's agreement" and "Dictator, if you build Astravets you'll reap Chernobyl".

The activists deny having held a mass event: they say they just used their legal right to express their opinion. "Officers of Kastrychnitski District Police Department of Vitsebsk came to my working place", said Vital Kavalenka, "and asked whether I had come out with a poster on 26 April. I said that I it was really so, but it wasn't a mass event. This is my opinion and I will draw my arguments at court."

The activists weren't informed about the date of the trial and were told to wait for writs. They say that the police didn't see them with the posters and could ground their charges only on the photos which were uploaded to the Internet.

"We were photographed by passers-by a lot. Some of them could phone to the police. We had rolled down the posters and were going away when a police car arrived. The head of the public order and prophylaxis department of Vitsebsk Regional Executive Committee Andrei Ivanou asked us to unroll the posters for a moment to see whether there were no calls to coup d'etat. He didn't find anything of the kind. The police didn't detain us, just followed us in their car, to make sure we wouldn't unroll the posters in some other place," said Yan Dziarzhautsau.

There were some precedents in Vitsebsk when people were fined or sentenced to arrest on the basis of such evidence as photos from the Internet.