Two protesters go to prison over violence in election picket
Two men in Maladziečna, a city 70 kms northeast of Minsk, were found guilty today of using violence against riot police officers during a protest held on June 19.
Pavel Piaskou, 31, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison, and Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu, 25, was sentenced to three years, both under Art. 363, Part 2 of the Criminal Code.
The Maladziečna District Court ruled that the defendants resisted the actions of two riot police officers. They reportedly damage the officers’ uniforms and inflicted minor injuries, including scratches on the knees and elbows. According to a forensic expert who examined the riot policemen, one of the officers had a scratch on his left knee measuring 2 cm by 1.5 cm. The injuries, however, were not photographed immediately after the incident.
Yeustsihneyeu pleaded guilty in full, while Piaskou admitted partial guilt.
Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu explained his actions by getting involved in a brawl after he heard a woman screaming near a police bus. He thought the woman was in pain. Then he ran up to the riot police officer and “grabbed him by the arm,” after which, as a result of the pressure from the crowd and the fact that Yeustsihneyeu twisted his leg, he fell together with the riot police officer.
“I was holding on to the riot police officer so that when falling, I wouldn't hit the sidewalk,” the defendant said.
Pavel Piaskou told the court that he heard someone screaming “Help!" in the street and saw a brawl in which a “riot policeman was pressing on a man”, after which he intervened. According to him, he wanted to stop the conflict, because children were present there and it took place in a public place. Both defendants argued that they did not intend to harm the riot police officers.
The trial stems from an incident of June 19 when during a solidarity picket in Maladziečna local residents tried to prevent the detention of Mikalai Aleinik. The footage of the brawl near the police van was later posted online. The video shows a gun in the hands of a riot policeman. The Investigative Committee of Belarus opened a criminal case under Article 363 (resistance to a police officer or other person protecting public order). Two persons, Uladzislau Yeustsihneyeu and Pavel Piaskou were detained as part of the criminal case. The trial opened on September 16. One of the suspects in the case, Uladzimir Nepahoda, is still wanted by the police.