Belarusian government sees no politics in Yury Rubtsou’s case
The Belarusian government has responded to a complaint submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of former political prisoner Yury Rubtsou. The letter says that Rubtsou was not prosecuted for expressing his opinion, but for disobeying a lawful order from a police officer.
In addition, the government refers to official statistics for the first nine months of 2015, which was provided by the Prosecutor's Office of Belarus. There were 2,963 supervisory protests in cases of administrative offenses, of which 2,910 were granted, while Yury Rubtsou did not complain to the prosecuting authorities.
Human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka, who has prepared the complaint, comments on the government’s argument concerning the imposition of an administrative penalty for disobeying a lawful order:
“On 3 November 2013, Yury Rubtsou took part in the Dziady street procession in Minsk. While walking with a column of people moving through the city, he was wearing over his clothes a T-shirt with slogans that reflected his thoughts and inner conviction, which were built on one of the public statements by the incumbent Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who said, “I will resign as President when the people of Belarus ask me to!” Yury decided to ask the President about it publicly – for this reason during the peaceful march his shirt contained the inscription “Lukashenka, Resign!”
During the procession, Rubtsou was repeatedly approached by police officers who asked him to remove the shirt, but he did not obey, considering the order unlawful, as it prevented the free expression of his opinion. After completion of the procession, he was detained by the police, who charged him under Article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offences, accusing him of disobeying their legitimate demands in the exercise of official authority.
The government of Belarus has failed to comment on Yury Rubtsou’s argument, who wondered why during the march he was repeatedly approached by police officers and asked to remove the T-shirt. Likewise, the government of Belarus did not give any assessment of the fact that he was detained immediately after the peaceful march at a bus stop while he was wearing the above T-shirt. The detention of Yury Rubtsou is confirmed by one of the largest independent Belarusian websites, tut.by, which consistently described the course of events with his participation in the Dziady street procession.”