Brest resident accused of defaming Lukashenka

2015 2015-03-03T15:51:55+0300 2015-03-03T15:51:55+0300 en

A new political prisoner may appear in Belarus.

Mikhail Lukashevich from Brest has been running a sort of a blog on his fence for more than 10 years, while the city authorities have been looking for ways to stop him. The Investigation Committee opened a criminal case over the “defamation of the president” (part 1 of article 367 of the Criminal Code), Belsat reports.

The man wrote political slogans, his thoughts about the government, people and corruption as well as an address to Aliaksandr Lukashenka on the fence and walls of his garage in Yesenin Street in Brest.

The man has been running his blog on the fence for more than 10 years. The local authorities have been looking for ways to make Lukashevich remove the seditious graffiti. They seem to achieve what they wanted. The Investigation Committee launched an inquiry at the end of last year and said that Lukashevich's actions violate the article “critical remarks expressed in a form of defamation of the authorities, law-enforcement agencies and the president”. A criminal case was opened on December 29, 2014. The man may face up to 5 years in prison.

Lukashevich refuses to cooperate with investigators. He was detained and held in custody several times. His home was searched, paint and seven brushes were confiscated. Lukashevich hides from journalists. He doesn't answer his phone and open the door. The man contacted human rights defenders earlier.

“Lukashevich asked our assistance, but he does not cooperate with investigators, so we don't know much. The authorities were looking for a way to remove the inscriptions from the fence, but were unable to do anything. The upcoming presidential election is a good excuse. I don't think Lukashevich will be tried for violating article 367 of the Criminal Code. He is likely to be found insane and sent to a psychiatric hospital for two years,” human rights defender Uladzimir Malei says.

All inscriptions still remain on the fence despite the criminal case. One of the remarks is about judges of Brest courts. Most of the persons mentioned are involved in the repression against civil society representatives and journalists.

Human rights defenders note that harassment of opposition members, journalists and small businessmen has increased in the last months. New political prisoners have appeared, the number of preventive arrests of activists has grown, a number of new repressive laws have been adopted, independent websites have been blocked, pressure on small business has increased. Experts explain it with the fact that many EU officials close their eyes to human rights violations in Belarus.