Belarus has new political prisoner – Yury Rubtsou
Minsk. December 23, 2014.
On December 21, it was reported that opposition activist Yury Rubtsou had been sent to open-type correctional facility No. 7 in the village of Kuplin, Pruzhany district, Brest region.
On October 6, Yury Rubtsou was sentenced by the court of the Tsentralny district of Minsk under Art. 391 of the Criminal Code (insult of a judge) to 1 year and 6 months of imprisonment.
The criminal prosecution of Yury Rubtsou is linked to his arbitrary detention on April 28, 2014 during a sanctioned peaceful assembly “Chernobyl Way” for wearing a T-shirt with the inscription “Lukashenka, Go Away!” He was eventually sentenced to 25 days of administrative arrest by Judge Kiryl Palulekh of the court of Savetski district of Minsk. According to the charges, Yury Rubtsou insulted the judge during the trial. It is essential that Yury Rubtsou was brought to the courtroom without a shirt, which offended his dignity, and the judge did not take any measures to protect his rights and dismissed his request to give him glasses to study the case. The judge’s actions clearly contradicted the Code of the Republic of Belarus “On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges”, as well as the Judicial Code of the Republic of Belarus. In connection with flagrant violation of his rights, Yury Rubtsou expressed his legitimate discontent and protest, calling such trials a “show”, and the judges, who issue such unlawful decisions, “scum”. These words were interpreted as statements aimed personally against Judge Kiryl Palulekh, while Yury Rubtsou comments on the minutes of the hearing were rejected by the same judge as groundless.
The verdict was based only on testimony by the police officers (including those who witnessed at the trial on April 28), a clerk of the court and Judge Palulekh himself. Yury Rubtsou’s counsel, who participated in the trial of April 28, was not questioned either during the preliminary investigation or during the trial. There were no procedural obstacles to interviewing the lawyer as a witness according to the current criminal procedural legislation.
We believe that the investigation and the trial of Yury Rubtsou were accusatory in their nature, no measures were taken for the comprehensive and impartial review of the charges, which is one of the essential components of a fair trial.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the NGO “Belarusian Helsinki Committee” state that:
The harassment of Yury Rubtsou is directly related to the illegal practice of arbitrary detentions and is politically motivated;
The trial of Yury Rubtsou did not meet the basic principles of a fair trial;
The restriction of freedom in an open-type prison imposed on Yury Rubtsou gives grounds to view him as a political prisoner.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee demand the release of Yury Rubtsou and a retrial in accordance with the principles of a fair trial.