Picks of the week
The appeals of two convicted anarchists, Mikita Yemialyianau and Ivan Komar, will be heard on March 27. The Minsk City Court will consider their claim against a verdict by the Saviecki District Court that sentenced both to seven years in prison on charges of “damage to property.”
Human rights defenders stressed that the sentence was clearly disproportionate to the offense and called the two activists political prisoners.
Aliaksandr Vaitseshyk, Viasna’s activist and a lawyer working with the independent trade union REP, has been officially charged with “disorderly conduct” (Art. 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses).
The charge stems from an incident on February 22 when the human rights defender was briefly detained by the police after trying to attend a meeting at a farm in Niasviž district. The activist was expected to represent a former employee, Viachaslau Syrytsa.
Vaitseshyk was taken to the district police department and then to a local hospital after he asked for medical assistance.
Belarus is still ranked as not free by Freedom House’s annual “Freedom in the World 2020” report.
The country scored as few as 19 points on average. Meanwhile, respect for political rights was estimated at only 5 out of 40 points. The low rating is due to the predictable outcome of the 2019 parliamentary elections. The votes in Belarus and Uzbekistan “shut out any genuine opposition, leaving legislatures entirely in the hands of pro-government groups,” the report said.