Picks of the week
Blogger Andrei Pavuk has been cleared of fake bomb threat charges, which could have sent him to prison for 5 years.
However, the investigators have not yet returned the equipment seized at the blogger’s apartment on March 20.
Pavuk was suspected of reporting a bomb threat to a government building in the town of Akciabrski, Homieĺ region.
On April 15, police officers dispersed a group of believers who staged a prayer outside President’s office in central Minsk, arresting four persons and taking them away in police buses. The demonstrators gathered to protest Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s decision to remove several hundred wooden crosses in the Kurapaty forest, a site of Stalin-era mass executions.
The protesters were eventually released, but are expected to face charges of illegal demonstrating, resulting in heavy fines or up to 25 days in prison.
Former political prisoner Dzmitry Paliyenka has been put in hospital for mental examination following his indictment earlier this month.
Paliyenka was arrested on March 20 on suspicion of committing “especially malicious hooliganism,” “desecration of buildings,” and “incitement to racial, national or religious hostility.” The last two charges stem from a video in which an unknown person, which investigators believe is Paliyenka, is writing “Cops Kill People” on the wall of a building. The Investigative committee said the act fosters hatred towards the police as a “social group.”
Meanwhile, human rights defenders frown at the application of the term towards police officers, since they cannot be viewed as a separate social group.
“This kind of labelling is illiterate and, moreover, it demonstrates the authorities’ desire to politicize the criminal case,” Viasna’s Valiantsin Stefanovich said.