Amnesty International stresses politically motivated prosecution of Yury Rubtsou
In its annual report presented yesterday across the world, Amnesty International has highlighted the prosecution of Belarusian activist Yury Rubtsou, who is serving a sentence in an open institution in the village of Kuplin, Pruzhany district.
Amnesty International says the harassment of Yury Rubtsou is linked to violations of freedom of assembly in Belarus:
“The Law on Mass Events remained unchanged, effectively prohibiting street protests including by a single individual despite continuing calls from UN human rights mechanisms for Belarus to review its restrictive legislation on public assemblies and to decriminalize the organization of public events without official permission. Peaceful protesters were repeatedly arrested and sentenced to short periods of detention.
The annual rally to mark the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster took place in April. According to civil society representatives, 16 participants were arbitrarily detained in connection with the event. They included Yury Rubtsou, an activist from Homel, who was detained for wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “ Lukashenka, leave!” and accused of “ failing to obey police orders” and “swearing”. He was sentenced to 25 days' administrative detention in a trial in which he appeared topless after police had confiscated his T-shirt. In August a criminal case was opened against him, purportedly for insulting the judge during his earlier court appearance, and in October he was sentenced in a closed court hearing to two years and six months’ imprisonment in an open regime prison (reduced by a year under an amnesty law). His appeal was pending at the end of the year.”
Commenting on the findings, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich stresses the importance of viewing the harassment as a violation of freedom of peaceful assembly:
“For us, human rights defenders, it is very important that Amnesty International in its annual report in detail told about the prosecution of activist Yury Rubtsou in the context of freedom of peaceful assembly. I have repeatedly recently heard from some influential representatives of the European Union about the existence in Belarus of only three political prisoners. Yury Rubtsou’s name was not among them. It is also important that Amnesty International emphasizes the politically motivated prosecution of Rubtsou, as it coincides with the opinions and evaluations of Belarusian human rights organizations.”
Since the persecution of Yury Rubtsou is directly related to the illegal practice of arbitrary detention and is politically motivated, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee qualify him as a political prisoner.
On 6 October 2014, Yury Rubtsou was sentenced by the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk for allegedly insulting a judge to 1 year and 6 months of restriction of freedom in open institution No. 7. On 22 December 2014, he was sent to serve his sentence in the village of Kuplin, Pruzhany district.