Vitsebsk: more fines for photos with “birds and cages”
Trials of participants of a photo shoot with a graffiti, painted by an unknown artist, continue at the Chyhunachny district court of Vitsebsk. The graffiti depicts newspaper birds flying out of cages. The police qualified the photoshoot as "unauthorized picketing".
The court fully supports the view of the police. None of those charged by the police managed to prove at the court that they were just photographed and did not put forward any demands.
The hearings at the Chyhunachny District Court of Vitsebsk took place on 28 November and 1 December. Judge Dzianis Hubanaufined journalist Alena Stsiapanava 3 mln rubles and an activist of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Alena Shabunia 2.7 mln rubles.
The latter was fined “much less” due to the fact that she was a mother with three children, two of whom were under age. Judge Alena Tsyhankova also fined journalists Zmitser Kazakevich and Kastus Mardzvintsau 3 mln rubles each, and a coordinator of the organizing committed of the BCD Tatsiana Seviarynets 3,750,000 rubles.
The trials of the last two members of the photo shoot took place on 1 December and aroused the indignation of all those present. First, Judge Alena Tsyhankova decided to hold the trial behind closed doors - in her own office, without those who came to support Kanstantsin Mardvintsau.
Some of them immediately appealed to the chair of the court, she had to intervene, and the judge let in 5 "spectators" – according to the number of free seats. She didn't allow bringing extra chairs.
Ms. Tsyhankova did not grant the request of Kanstantsin Mardzvintsau for conducting the trial in Belarusian or inviting an interpreter. She stated that he knew the Russian language well enough to understand the questions of the court and the police representative.
The petition for the challenge of the judge, made by Kanstantsin Mardzvintsau and Tatsiana Seviarynets, who saw the clearly negative attitude of Alena Tsyhankova to all present people, wasn't granted either.
"Even if we hadn't been just taking photos, but would have come out with posters and banners – we have the right to it! However, we have just took several photos with a graffiti, which many residents of the city do like, and the police major Aliaksandr Rybak and his superiours from the regional police department regard it as a crime"...
The charges against the participants of the photoshoot were drafted by the head of the division of prophylaxis and public order of the Chyhunachny District Police Department Aliaksandr Rybakou. As said by him, “interest” to the photos was paidby the regional police department which allegedly identified a group of persons whose actions had traits of a crime during the course of monitoring of Internet sites. An appropriate report, signed by the head of the crime prevention division of the police bureau of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee Aliakansandr Kalinouski was submitted to the Chyhunachny DPD. Many Vitsebsk activists remember Mr. Kalinouski by his earlier work at the Kastrychnitski DPD in Vitsebsk: he initiated many trials against them. However, at that time he hasn't come as far as charging people for taking photos.
One more participant of the photoshoot, human rights activist Pavel Levinau, was invited to the police department for a talk. However, he hasn't received charges so far. Mr. Levinau stated he would conclude a service agreement with a lawyer and therefore would visit major Rybakou later. Among the charged persons there is also an ordinary passer-by Piatro Berlinau, who joined the photoshoot on the spot. On December 1 he was summonsed to court as well. However, the trial was postponed to December 3, as he solicited for being given some time to enter into an agreement with a lawyer.