Vitsebsk Regional Court rejects appeal by editor of independent paper
Heorhi Stankevich, a teacher and poet of the town of Beshankovichy, was going to challenge the decision of the district court, who on April 3 fined him 7.5 million rubles for the production and distribution of the newspaper Kryvinka.
The consideration of his appeal was held at the Vitsebsk Regional Court on April 7. However, Mr. Stankevich could not come, and judge Sviatlana Ivanova refused to consider his complaint publicly, despite the fact that the hearing was attended by the activist’s supporters and local human rights defenders.
The Regional Court’s decision says that there were no procedural violations during the trial of the founder and publisher of Kryvinka and that the judge did not notice any infringement of Heorhi Stankevich’s rights.
“This is what it says: “no procedural violations that could lead to the cancellation of the judgment”. And about the fact that it was conducted without a lawyer, as judge Natallia Reut refused to wait for the counsel’s arrival from Minsk, whom I entrusted the protection of my interests, it said that “evidence of violations of the right to the protection found no confirmation”, because I supposedly “left the hearing without the permission of the judge”. Where is the logic? The judge herself told me to leave the room, after I had several times requested a lawyer from Minsk, with whom I had already agreed, instead of a representative of the district bar office, where the judge had sent me. In addition, I asked for an interpreter, since I do not know Russian well enough to understand all the legal aspects. However, this was refused,” says Heorhi Stankevich.
After being removed from the courtroom, the publisher of Kryvinka filed a complaint against the judge to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor promised to give a written response, but did not try to intervene in the case. There was another complaint to the President of the Court. Meanwhile, the judge had completed the trial. As a result, the publisher was fined under Part 2 of Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code for violation of the publishing and distribution of Kryvinka.
This was the third trial on similar charges for Mr. Stankevich. The first administrative case against him and Kryvinka was opened back in 2010. It ended with a trial and a fine of 20 basic units. The next penalty in 2012 was already twice as much – 40 basic units. The previous court decisions were also confirmed by the Regional Court and higher courts. Heorhi Stankevich’s complaint about the charges of 2010 is pending before the UN Human Rights Committee.