Vitsebsk activists sue city executive committee
Having been refused a refusal on holding a march and a rally, coordinator of the Movement "For Freedom" of Vitsebsk region, Khrystafor Zhaliapau and activist of the organizing committee of the Social Democratic Party "Narodnaya Hramada" Aliaksei Haurutsikau filed a lawsuit with Kastrychnitski district court. The activists believe that by banning the events the officials violated the law and the rights of citizens to freely express their thoughts.
The rejected application by Khrystafor Zhaliapau and Aliaksei Haurutsikau dealt with an action of solidarity with doctor Ihar Pastnou, who at the time was held in a psychiatric hospital. The activists wanted to protest against the use of mental health institutions against citizens who express their disagreement with the authorities.
The ban activists referred to a decision of the executive committee of July 10, 2009, according to which the applicants should submit along with their bid contracts for the maintenance of the event signed by local public utilities, police and medical services.
"However, the decision of the Vitsebsk city executive committee says nothing about the organization of marches - only about pickets and rallies. Accordingly, the officials issued a groundless refusal, citing the decision in this case. This is a clear violation of our right to freedom of mass events," explains Aliaksei Haurutsikau.
He stresses that the decision itself is nearly impossible to implement, “All of our previous attempts to sign agreements with the responsible agencies were not a success. The officials would not want to cooperate, as long as there is no permission from the government. Meanwhile, the executive power requires such agreements. As a result, we are caught in a vicious circle, in which we rotate for three and a half years. During this time, Vitsebsk opposition has been unable to obtain a single permit to hold mass actions.”
Khrystafor Zhaliapau and Aliaksei Haurutsikau urge the court to find the latest ban by the executive committee illegal, as it was issued inappropriately and violated the rights of citizens. The activists also ask that the court ordered the city executive officials to authorize the events, both the march and the rally. Although Ihar Pastnou is already out of the psychiatric hospital, the threat of the use of mental health institutions against citizens who express their disagreement with the government is still topical, say the Vitsebsk opposition activists.