More protesters convicted in political trials
Courts in Minsk sentenced today political prisoners Ivan Krasouski, Volha Paulava and Liavon Khalatran to terms of restricted freedom (so-called “khimiya”), finding them guilty of “breaching public order” during the unprecedented wave of protests triggered by the fraudulent presidential election of August 2020. The convicts were released after hearing the verdicts. Krasouski and Khalatran, however, are likely to be re-arrested after they have lost their appeals.
A 18-year-old anarchist, Ivan Krasouski is expected to be sent to serve three years in an open penitentiary, according to a verdict by Judge Viktoryia Fiodarava of the Saviecki District court of Minsk. He was convicted of obstructing traffic near the Riga shopping mall in Minsk on the night of August 10, which allegedly caused 5,600 rubles worth of losses to the Minsktrans government-owned public transport operator.
Krasouski was accused of “publicly shouting slogans and blocking traffic.” He also allegedly refused to leave the place after repeated demands from the police and called other people to join the protest.
The teenager was detained for the first time on August 12. Security officers severely beat him and he had to seek medical assistance. Ivan was detained for the second time in late September as part of a criminal case under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code. The charge was later reclassified to Part 1 of Art. 342, which carries a milder punishment.
Ivan pleaded guilty in part. He only admitted that he shouted slogans and clapped his hands, denying the rest of the charges. Krasouski also rejected the civil lawsuit.
“I’m a young man of 18 years old, I just left school. What I saw near the Riga mall, I saw it for the first time in my life. I was emotional. It's abnormal when police officers beat people and ambulance staff,” Krasouski said in court.
During the trial, it became known that the guy’s phone had been tapped since March 3, i.e. five months before the election.
Liavon Khalatran, a volunteer of Viktar Babaryka’s campaign, was sentenced to two years in an open penitentiary, after Judge Yuliya Blizniuk of the Frunzienski District Court of Minsk found him guilty of obstructing traffic, shouting slogans and clapping his hands during a protest on election night, August 9, in Minsk.
The 34-year-old bar manager was detained on August 11. He was badly beaten during arrest. Khalatran was first charged under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code, “rioting”, but in December he faced a different charge, Part 1 of Art. 342 (“group actions that grossly violate public order”).
The damage allegedly caused by his actions was estimated at 115,000 rubles.
Liavon Khalatran did not admit his guilt.
People detained in political cases are always beaten during arrest, Khalatran said after leaving the court building. He mentioned a prisoner who was detained for alleged violence against an employee of a government-owned TV channel.
“His mouth was ripped with a rope. It were not the prison staff, but GUBAZIK officers,” Liavon Khalatran said, comparing the police force to an organized criminal group.
Volha Paulava, an activist of Siarhei Tsikhanouski’s media project “A Country for Living” and a member of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s campaign team, was sentenced to three years of home confinement known as “home khimiya”. The sentence was handed down by Judge Maryna Zapasnik of the Lieninski District Court of Minsk.
Paulava was convicted of “active involvement in group actions which violated public order” and “disobeying the lawful demands of the authorities,” which allegedly led to disruption of public transport.
The indictment included “public shouting of slogans,” “loud clapping of hands,” “raising of hands,” “prolonged, persistent and continuous disturbance of public order,” “being in the front rows of the protest” and “creating obstacles by walking on the road.” All this reportedly caused material damaged of 10,689 rubles and 76 kopecks.
The defendant refused to testify, citing Article 27 of the Constitution.
“I was at Akrestsin Street [detention center in Minsk] from August 9 to 12 and I have every right to say it out loud, because I saw with my own eyes how men were beaten to death. And I was beaten, too. It was done by prison director Shapetska and Urubleuski, a staff member. I survived a gas chamber set up by prison officers for women. Indifference is scary! The measure of good and evil is conscience.
And you, you have no conscience! In Belarus, the Constitution is the highest legal force, not the illegal decrees of the authorities and your fear of losing your job,” the political prisoner said in her last statement addressing the court.