Minsk court fines four opposition politicians over illegal protests
The Court of Minsk’s Centraĺny district heard today the administrative charges brought against former presidential candidate and ex-political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, as well as UCP leader Anatol Liabedzka, former leader of Tell the Truth campaign Uladzimir Niakliayeu, and opposition activist Mikalai Kazlou.
They were charged under Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code for participating in a rally staged on September 16 in central Minsk to honor the memory of opposition politician Viktar Hanchar and businessman Anatol Krasouski, who were abducted and most probably killed by unknown persons 16 years ago.
Uladzimir Niakliayeu came today to the court building, but refused to go into the courtroom. “Why go to court if there is no justice and no elections in the country,” he told Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe Belarus service.
The hearings were opened despite the absence of Uladzimir Niakliayeu and Mikalai Statkevich. However, the judged heard the cases behind closed doors.
As a result, Uladzimir Niakliayeu was fined 5.4 mln rubles, and Mikalai Statkevich – 9 mln rubles.
During the trial of Anatol Liabedzka, the judge rejected the politician’s request to impeach the judge. Anatol Liabedzka was accused of involvement in two episodes. On September 16, he allegedly violated mass events legislation by chanting slogans at the memorial picket. The other charge dealt with a picket staged on September 23. The politician “violated the order of the rally, which was organized without permission, called for a boycott of the elections, and did not react to comments.” Anatol Liabedzka explained his actions as follows: “I do not understand the claim. I thought that we are having an election campaign here, and, according to the Constitution, we can discuss the election, but it turns out we can’t.”
As a result, Anatol Liabedzka was fined a total of 7.2 mln rubles.
Opposition activist Mikalai Kazlou has been fined 5.4 mln rubles.