Picks of the week
Anarchists fined for extremism in social networks
New administrative proceedings are initiated against former political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok under art. 17.11 of the Administrative Offenses Code (production, distribution and (or) storage of extremist materials). It is the third case against the activist in the last seven months, Novy Chas reports.
"They have opened a new administrative case, this time for ‘publishing extremist materials in the social network Vkontakte.’ They expect that the media will not bother to write about it, and everyone stops paying attention to the persistent persecution," Mikola Dziadok wrote on Facebook.
The activist learned of the new case from a subpoena which he received by post.
On January 29, another former political prisoner, Dzmitry Palijenka was detained. On January 31, he was fined 50 basic units for posting a photo with a person wearing a hat with the inscription added to the list of extremist materials in March 2018. The activist pleaded not guilty and pointed out that he had not had the intention for publishing of extremist materials, as he had done it before the inscription was added to the list of extremist materials.
TUT.by chief editor to stand trial soon
As reported by Belsat TV channel, the trial of Maryna Zolatava, editor-in-chief of the popular news portal TUT.BY that will start on February 12 in Minsk.
Maryna Zolatava remains the only accused person in the so-called "BelTA case." Other persons involved – 14 employees of various media outlets – were released from criminal prosecution, but held administratively liable.
She is charged under Part 2 of Article 425 of the Criminal Code (inaction of an official). The maximum penalty for this article is five years in prison.
What's wrong with changes to the legislation on mass gatherings?
On January 26, amendments to the Mass Gatherings Act entered into force in Belarus. Human rights defenders organized a public event to present their assessment of the changes for compliance with international standards of freedom of peaceful assembly.
Before the adoption of the amendments to the Act, several human rights organizations had sent their proposals to the draft act to Parliament. Human rights defenders suggested separating the regulation of the events aimed at exercising rights to freedom of expression and other mass events (cultural, sports events); expanding the list of places for holding mass gatherings; introducing the concept of counter-demonstration, excluding single-person protests from the operation of the Act, since it cannot be considered a mass gathering.
The legislators studied these suggestions but did not take them into account when making changes to the legislation.
Access to trial of former police officers restricted for human rights defenders and journalists
On February 1, a hearing of a high-profile case against two former local police officers ended in Brest. The two were accused of fraud, abuse of power and embezzlement through malpractice in office. These officers also repeatedly arrested civic activists and gave false evidence against them in court.
It was an open court session, but journalist Milana Kharytonava, blogger Siarhej Piatrukhin, and human rights advocate Uladzimir Vialichkin were stopped from entering the courtroom, allegedly because of the lack of space in the hall.
The human rights activist believes that the rights of citizens were violated because the Constitution guarantees the principle of openness of the courts. The defenders were sentenced to 5 and 6 years of prison respectively.