Former political prisoner Viachaslau Kasinerau fined 115 rubles
The Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk sentenced yesterday Viachaslau Kasinerau to a fine of 115 rubles (EUR 56).
The verdict pronounced on April 27 by Judge Aliaksandr Petrash after a one-day trial on charges of criminal hooliganism appeared unexpectedly lenient. Especially because the public prosecutor requested a sentence of two years of home arrest, while the charges the activist faced under Part 1 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code provided for up to three years in prison. This symbolic punishment is a criminal assessment of the legitimate actions by Viachaslau Kasinerau, says representative of Viasna Pavel Sapelka, who co-authored an expert analysis of the case and monitored the trial.
“Indeed, on the background of earlier crackdown on civil society activists, this punishment is rather mild. And still it is a form of repression associated with the exercise of the activist’s rights, which are protected by the Constitution and the international obligations of Belarus,” says the human rights activist.
Kasinerau said in his comments to reporters shortly after the trial that the verdict is a ‘leash’ the authorities are going to keep him on.
“In fact, there are no special restrictions, including on the movement, place of residence or occupation, and the like, that the sentence imposes on the activist, but at the same time, any criminal conviction greatly reduces the opportunities of any person,” Sapelka said.
According to him, the sentencing did not affect Viasna’s assessment of the legal consequences in Kasinerau’s case.
The activist stood trial on charges of vandalizing a monument to a policeman near the Interior Ministry’s headquarters in Minsk. On March 12, Kasinerau threw a noose around the statue’s neck, thus protesting against ‘police-related violence’ towards his fellow members in the anarchist movement.
On April 5, the country's leading human rights organizations issued a statement to declare Viachaslau Kasinerau a political prisoner and to urge the authorities to drop the charges and to release him.
On April 21, the activist was released before trial.