1 mln fine for protest against Russian air base
Leninski District Court of Mahiliou fined yesterday local activist of the United Civil Party Mikalai Hladyshau for staging an unauthorized rally in the center of the city.
On 4 July, the UCP activist without permission from the executive committee held a picket in front of the former Consumer Services Center in Mahiliou. He posted a banner "No to Russian airbase in the land of Belarus" on the fence and stood next to it for almost an hour. Subsequently, he was approached by policemen and arrested.
While in court, Mikalai Hladyshau pleaded not guilty. He said his aim was to protect the interests of Belarus and added that did not want Russian or NATO troops to be located on its territory. According to him, they pose a threat to local residents. A particular danger is created by the Russian weapons, which are of poor quality and traumatic. The number of accidents involving Russian military aircraft and missiles are significantly higher compared with the armies of European nations.
Judge Alena Volkava ruled to find the activist guilty of violating Article 5 of the Law "On Mass Events Republic of Belarus," because he did not file an application for the picket to the local city executive officials.
Uladzimir Shantsau, local UCP leader, was not allowed as a representative of the activist during the trial. The Judge referred to the fact that defendants could be only represented by their lawyers.
The Judge asked the activist why he had not staged a sanctioned rally in a permitted location, and Hladyshau said that the authorities would never allowed the picket and that he knew that he, too, would have been refused to hold it, so he decided not to bother the officials with his application.
As an example, he cited the case of an application for a picket submitted by Uladzimir Shantsau, who requested a rally and a march against the Russian air base in an authorized location at the Khimik stadium, which is situated on the outskirts of the city in the middle of nowhere, but was refused.
Mikalai Hladyshau asked the Judge to return the seized poster, but was refused, too.
The activist intends to appeal the decision to a higher court.