Viciebsk Regional Court dismisses appeal of unemployed oppositionist
Head of the regional branch of the Belarusian Popular Front party Leanid Autukhou wanted to achieve the lifting of the verdict of the Haradok District Court, according to which he was fined 5.4 million rubles. "I wish I was sentenced to arrest," says the unemployed activist.
Actually, the case started from his becoming unemployed. Mr. Autukhou lost his job in 2008 – he became redundant before the elections to the House of Representatives, where he was running. Since then, he has had over 40 attempts to get a job, but did not succeed, including through the district employment center. Then the activist was groundlessly removed from the unemployment register. Therefore he had a conflict with the head of the District Department of Labor, Employment and Social Security Piatro Prasolau, whom the activist compared to "terrorists in Lugansk and Donetsk" by making a record in the book of comments and suggestions at the district executive committee.
The official went to court, and Judge of the Haradok District Court Aliaksandra Nosava found Leanid Autukhou guilty of violating Article 23.5 of the Administrative Code for "insulting an official in the performance of official duties by a person not subordinate to him at work". The activist did not agree with the decision, because he thinks that his trial was biased, the judge failed to take into account all the circumstances and to make a fair and informed decision. Leanid Autukhou appealed to the Regional Court with a request to have his case re-examined with the participation of another judge of the Haradok District Court, as Judge Nosava hadn't granted any of his motions and had in fact deprived him of the right to defense.
Judge of the Viciebsk Regional Court Sviatlana Ivanova supported upheld the verdict of Judge Nosava, and stated that the fine was quite soft, as the maximum sum was 50 base units.
Leanid Autukhou, who has been unemployed for many years already, asked to replace the fine with arrest. However, the regional court refused to do so, stating that the cassation instance could not appoint a punishment which would be harder than that issued by the court of the first instance.