Opposition activist Zmitser Dashkevich leaves jail after completing 25-day term

2014 2014-05-20T12:42:31+0300 2014-05-20T12:42:31+0300 en

Prominent opposition activist Zmitser Dashkevich was released from a detention center in Minsk on Monday evening upon completion of a 25-day jail term.

At least 30 opposition activists have been arrested and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 10 to 25 days in Belarus since late April in a crackdown apparently meant to prevent any protests during the May 9-25 Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk. Among them are at least six activists of an opposition youth organization called Malady Front (Young Front), including co-chairmen Zmitser Dashkevich and Andrey Tsyanyuta.

Mr. Dashkevich, currently 32 years of age, was apprehended on April 24 while he was leaving his apartment. He managed to phone his wife and tell her that his belongings were being searched, and that he would probably be jailed.

The following day, Judge Yury Harbatowski of the Pershamayski District Court sentenced Mr. Dashkevich to 25 days in jail, finding him guilty of violating terms of “preventive police supervision” and disobeying police officers.

Mr. Dashkevich was convicted on the basis of testimonies by police officers who had arrested him. In particular, they accused him of coming home too late on one occasion and refusing to obey their orders. Mr. Dashkevich admitted his late arrival, explaining that he had been delayed at work, but flatly denied the other charge.

After hearing his sentence, Mr. Dashkevich told reporters that the judge’s decision was absurd and meant to prevent him from participating in a Chernobyl anniversary demonstration in Minsk on April 26 and staging any protests during the world hockey championship.