Court to hear appeal of Yury Rubtsou on 21 November
An appeal lodged by opposition activist Yury Rubtsou, who was sentenced to 18 months of detention in a correctional labor camp, will be considered by the Minsk City Court on November 21.
On 6 October, the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk found the activist guilty of a crime under Article 391 of the Criminal Code, “insulting a judge,” and sentenced him to two and a half years of imprisonment. However, the sentence was reduced to 1.5 years due to an amnesty.
Having observed the trial, the Human Rights Center “Viasna” said that the imprisonment of Yury Rubtsou in an open-type penal facility would bring a new political prisoner to Belarus.
“Mr Rubtsou was detained at an authorized meeting only for the inscription “Lukashenka, go away!” on his T-shirt, he was brought half-naked to the court; in a way that offends human dignity, but the judge, of course, wasn’t interested in why the man was was looking like this. Despite the fact that the judge has to protect the rights and interests of citizens. And now it turns out that those who testified that he used obscene language testify that he insulted the judge. That’s why we declare that, if after an appeal the decision in the same form comes into force and Rubtsou will have to serve a year and a half of imprisonment, we will declare him a political prisoner. Because sentencing of Rubtsou is directly related to the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Every citizen of the Republic of Belarus has the right to say “Lukashenka, go away!” And nobody has the right to detain citizens for it,” said Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Rubtsou faced charges on 5 August, when he was questioned as a suspect in the Investigative Committee’s Savetski district department of Minsk. The charges stemmed from a statement of the Savetski District Court Judge Kiryl Palulekh, who claimed that during the consideration of an administrative case on 28 April the activist allegedly insulted the judge by using offensive words.