Pavel Levinau is prohibited to hold a photo session
Human rights activist appealed to the Chyhunachny District Executive Committee to inform it about his intention to get photographed with his friends just for the sake of taking photos. However, he was answered that he had failed to implement the requirements of the regulation of Vitsebsk City Executive Committee “About mass events in the city of Vitsebsk”.
The reason for the appeal was the incident with Vitsebsk journalists who were fined for allegedly holding an unauthorized event when their photos against a city wall appeared on the web.
“I informed the executive committee about my intention to take group photos near the building with graffiti, a picture of three cells from which newspaper birds are breaking free. I especially emphasized in my appeal that my only goal was to take memorial photos, not to express any political or other views. I also stressed that my friends would come without posters, banners, weapons or any other items which could present danger to other people... However, I was prohibited to take photographs, citing the decision of the executive committee, which concerns the organization and conduct of mass events in the city. Although I strongly emphasized that it will not be a mass event, just a photo shooting,” said Mr. Levinau.
The human rights activist does not rule out that the officials didn't even read his appeal attentively and copypasted their answer from the earlier ones, in which he appealed for holding mass events. The answer reads that the applicant is not allowed to take photos due to his failure to enter into service contracts with the police, ambulance and public utilities – the institutions which try to evade from “cooperation” with democratic activists at any cost. The formal reason for the ban in this case is the failure of the event organizer(s) to meet the requirements of regulation No. 881 of Vitsebsk Executive Committee.
“Officers of the Chyhunachny District Executive Committee are either incompetent in legislation or haven't read the law “On Mass Events” and therefore don't know that it regulates just the conduct of pickets and demonstrations, not group photo shootings. Now, according to the officials' logic any tourists who wants to photograph against the city landscape is a potential lawbreaker,” argues the human rights activist.
Pavel Levinau is going to appeal the ban, issued by Deputy Chief of the Chyhunachny DEC Aliaksandr Ilmovich at court. He is also preparing for a trial over himself: December 12 he will be tried for the participation in a photo shooting, for which six Vitsebskers have already been sentenced to huge fines.
The idea of that photo shoot was to draw public attention to the topic raised by an unknown graffiti- artist, who painted newspaper birds flying out of cages on a wall. Participants of the photo shoot were taking photos standing next to the graffiti, holding origami birds in their hands.
Chair of the division of prophylaxis and public order of the Chyhunachny District Police Department of Vitsebsk Aliaksandr Rybakou, who drew the violation reports against the participants of the photo shoot, stated that this was a picket and the people “expressed their social and political views”.
As a result, journalists Alena Stsiapanava, Zmitser Kazakevich and Kastus Mardzvintsau, as well as the activists of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Party Alena Shabunia and Tatsiana Seviarynets were fined 2,700,000 – 3,750,000 rubles.
An ordinary passer-by Piatro Biarlinau, who joined the photo shoot on the spot, was sentenced to three days of arrest post factum, as he was kept in the detention center before the trial.