Orsha activists sue district executive committee over banned rally
Judge Alesia Kotava advised the applicants of the banned picket to immediately pay another court fee, so that the complaint could be considered in two separate trials. However, she saw no violated rights to organize a mass event.
The applicants of a picket expected to highlight the problem of a bridge across the Dnieper came to court on December 16 together with their supporters. Activist of the Movement "For Freedom" Yury Nahorny and activist of the BCD’s organizing committee Yauhen Anishchanka told that the picket scheduled for November 30 was aimed at attracting the attention of Orsha residents to the need for an emergency repair of the bridge, and although the repairs have already begun, the number of disputable issues has only increased since then, say the activists.
“The period of repairs is vague, the resources issues is also unknown, except for the fact that they do not exist. The bridge is closed to traffic, the other city bridge is overloaded, and for how long – it is yet unknown. Therefore, we asked the court to declare a ban on the picket illegal, and urged the executive committee to allow us to stage the rally. But the judge advised us "to split" our application into two parts to be considered separately, one claim to the authorities and the other to the city utilities, police and medical departments that refused to sign service contracts. It was precisely because of this circumstance that our picket was banned,” says Yury Nahorny.
He is convinced that "splitting" the complaint does not make any sense, since all these structures are run by the state, and are subject to the executive committee.
The district executive committee was represented by an employee of the legal department, Katsiaryna Laurenava. She stated that the ban on the picket was not a violation of the rights of citizens, but a last choice caused by the fact that the applicants did not meet the conditions of Orsha city executive committee’s decision on the organization of mass events. The decision states that the organizers must provide, together with the application, service contracts with public utilities, medical internal affairs departments of Orsha.
“However, the police department of the central clinic told us that contracts would be signed only if we were allowed to hold the picket. And the Spetsautabaza public utility enterprise did not reply to our application at all,” Yauhen Anishchanka told in court.
As yet, Judge Alesia Kotava has not taken any decision. She put off the trial till December 23 to question the executive committee’s deputy chairman Aleh Smirnouski, who signed the ban.
“One gets the impression that the judge is trying to look into the matter. She also refuses to understand how you can sign contracts with entities that are willing to do so only after the final verdict of the authorities. We are trying to prove that such procedures cannot be fulfilled, that the decision of the local authorities restricts our rights to staging public events and to freedom of opinion. Meanwhile, the representative of the legal department insists that all is legal... We know that this situation can be seen almost all over Vitsebsk region, these decision of local executive committees seem to have been written by one hand and with the only purpose - to prohibit all events on the initiative of the democratic forces," continues Yury Nahorny.
Earlier this month, Orsha authorities banned a picket against the destruction of a park. The reason for the ban is the same - absence of contracts, which cannot be obtained.