Opposition leaders Niakliayeu and Statkevich in jail again
Opposition leader Uladzimir Niakliayeu has been sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention allegedly calling to join a protest entitled “March of Angry Belarusians 2.0” in a publication on charter97.org website.
The case file provided little detail about the offense. Meanwhile, the opposition politician argues he was not interviewed by charter97.org. During the court hearing, he asked to hear a testimony by first deputy chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers Ales Pashkevich.
The witness said that the Union had analyzed Niakliayeu’s words and came to the conclusion that the publication was not the primary source, but merely contained a quotation and a journalist’s interpretation, which did not match the initial statement made for the Belsat TV Channel. In addition, the statement itself does not contain a call to participate in the demonstration, the expert said.
The Minsk city executive committee said in its reply to a written request from the court that that Uladzimir Niakliayeu was not among the organizers of the protest. Nor did he participate in the rally.
The Belarusian PEN-Center, in turn, made a statement in support of Uladzimir Niakliayeu, which said that if the trial resulted in any punishment for the poet (Niakliayeu is PEN's former head), the literary association would forward the news to PEN International, so that its experts could express their attitude to the implementation by Belarus of its obligations in the field of freedom of expression.
However, these arguments did not influence Judge Sviatlana Metlianok who punished Niakliayeu by ten days in jail.
Another leading opposition politician, Mikalai Statkevich, was detained on Monday, October 30, and sentenced to 5 days in jail for organizing a protest against the “Zapad-2017” military drills.
Statkevich has been detained six times since January 2017, and has spent 34 days in jail in the last 10 months.