Ihar Pastnou: by banning pickets the authorities push people to active protests
The psychiatrist failed to challenge the ban on a picket in memory of victims of police brutality.
On February 4 the Kastrychnitski District Court of Vitsebsk ruled that the local authorities had forbidden the picket on legal grounds. Ihar Pastnou intends to appeal the court decision.
Judge Alena Papkova began the trial 5 minutes before the scheduled time and tried to ban human rights activists and Pastnou's friends from entering the courtroom. The physician thinks it was made on purpose.
“I think the judge hoped to hold the trial quietly and quickly, so she began it earlier not waiting for the people who wanted to attend the hearing. She wanted as few people as possible to know about the trial and its outcome. The judge even called a police officer to 'calm down the hooligans'. But human rights activists saw chair of the court, Yauhen Burunou. They told him about the schedule and noted that the trial should begin in 2 or 3 minutes. The judge had to adjourn the trial and all entered the courtroom,” Ihar Pastnou said.
He declared impeachment to the judge after the incident, but his motion was rejected. Ihar Pastnou filed a motion to summon to the court the local officials, who had banned the picket. The judge read a letter saying that local officials didn't have time to attend the trial.
“I explained my claims to the judge. Banning the picket is not a formality. It insults my honor and dignity. I just wanted to organize a picket in memory of victims of police brutality, but I had to hold it in a forest, not Mazuryn Park, the official place for mass events. I said I want 3,000 Euros of compensation for moral damage. The judge found the arguments unconvincing. The trial lasted for 30 minutes. The judge read the case for 10 minutes. My explanations took 20 minutes. Judge Papkova read her decision after a 2-hour recess. She said the picket had been banned on legal grounds,” Mr. Pastnou says.
The picket was not allowed because Pastnou didn't enter into service contracts with the police, public utilities and ambulance, the requirement provided for by Regulation No. 881 of the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee. The requirement seems to be impossible, because the above mentioned services don't want to enter into contracts until seeing an official permission issued by the authorities. Ihar Pastnou says the requirements have no sense in his case:
“I wasn't going to leave rubbish after my picket. It was to be a one-man picket. I am a medic. Why do they think I need medical aid? No one signs agreements with the emergency service. People just call an ambulance if they need it. As for the police, I invited all police officers, because the problem of police brutality is very acute. The police senior officers should agree with my demand 'Let's free the police from those prone to violence and sadism'. Ignoring such important problems and banning pickets are not just violations of civil rights. The authorities induce people to Maidan protests and unsanctioned actions,” he said.
Human rights defender Piotr Ivanou helped Ihar Pastnou to prepare the claim. They plan to appeal the court decision to the Vitsebsk Regional Court. Participants of the incident left three complains in the court's book of complaints over Papkova's attempt not to allow people to attend the public trial.