Picks of the week
The criminal investigation into the vandalism charges brought against Young Front activist Pilip Shaurou has been extended by one month, until May 3.
The court decision ordering the extension cites the “particular complexity of the criminal case and its considerable volume.” Meanwhile, Pilip Shaurou remains in pre-trial detention, a measure condemned as clearly excessive by human rights defenders.
Shaurou is facing up to 6 years in prison on charges of vandalizing two monuments in Minsk. The activist said the acts were his response to the Russia-Belarus integration plans.
The country’s human rights community called the charges politically motivated and urged the authorities to release the activist.
Viasna wrote to Anaïs Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, to inform her about the expulsion of Lizaveta Prakopchyk from Minsk Linguistic University. The human rights defenders say the decision to expel the student is linked to her calls for distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
Lizaveta Prakopchyk claimed that the steps would reduce the risk of infection among students, their families and friends. Moreover, university classes were held in rooms not adapted to meet World Health Organization recommendations on social distancing.
“The student was expelled shortly after she staged a rally on the campus to criticize the policies of the government and of the university administration in the face of the spread of the pandemic. Harassment of citizens, NGOs and the media for dissemination of alternative information and opinions is not permissible,” Viasna activists said in their appeal to the UN expert.
On April 16, the Baranavičy Court fined human rights defender Aliaksandr Vaitseshyk 270 rubles finding him guilty of “disorderly conduct” (Art. 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses).
Viasna activist and counsel for the REP trade union, Vaitseshyk was convicted of involvement in an incident in the Niasviž district on February 22.
On the day, the activist was detained by the police after he attempted to attend a meeting at a local farm, in which he was expected to represent former employee and fellow activist Viachaslau Syrytsa. Vaitseshyk was arrested for reportedly pushing a security guard.
“The judge refused to question my witnesses who were present at the scene of the incident. She refused to interrogate Viachaslau Syrytsa. In addition, she ignored my power of attorney, which allowed me to attend the meeting. Overall, she rejected all of my attempts to defend myself,” the human rights activist said after the trial.