Vitsebsk activists complain against administrative charges
Opposition activist Tatsiana Seviarynets and Alena Shabunyi have written a statement to the police department and the city Prosecutor’s Office against a police officer of the Chyhunachny district police department who charged them with alleged participation in an unsanctioned rally. Both ladies insist that they were simply photographed against the backdrop of one of the city’s buildings.
“I often take pictures with my friends, without any specific reasons and causes,” says the statement authored by the coordinator of the Belarusian Christian Democracy’s organizing committee Tatsiana Seviarynets and activist Alena Shabunia. They argue that the photos cannot be evidence of an offense. Moreover, no actual evidence was presented to them. Therefore, they ask the Prosecutor of Vitsebsk, city police chief and head of the Chyhunachny district police department to address the situation and to give an answer on what basis police officer Aliaksandr Rybakou decided that taking pictures violated public order.
Photos of Tatsiana Seviarynets and Alena Shabunia were posted on Facebook.
These photos later appeared on the website of the Belarusian Association of Journalists and became the main proof in the charges brought against five persons who could be seen in the taken outside the building of the former District House of Culture. The wall of the building had graffiti: an image of three iron cages with a paper bird that escapes the cage.
Alena Shabunia, journalists Dzmitry Kazakevich and Alena Stsiapanava will stand trial on November 28, journalist Kanstantsin Mardvintsau and Tatsiana Seviarynets – on December 1.
The dates were appointed by the police officer, and no summonses were served to anyone. Obviously, it was Aliaksandr Rybakou who decided that every trial should not last more than half an hour, which is suggested by the schedule of trials of the alleged offenders.
On November 24, the police officer talked to local human rights defender Pavel Levinau, but he faced no charges after the human rights activist said that he wanted to exercise his right to legal representation in the administrative process. It is still unknown whether the police questioned another man – a passer-by who joined the photo session outside the House of Culture.
An order to punish the activists was sent from the regional police department. It was signed by Head of Crime Prevention Department Aliaksandr Kalinouski.