6 years in prison for 'teaching to clap hands': Political prisoner Aliaksei Sanchuk convicted
A 30-year-old political prisoner and musician Aliaksei Sanchuk has been sentenced to six years in a medium-security penal colony, after Judge Tatsiana Pirozhnikava of the Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk found him guilty under several articles of the Criminal Code: Part 1 and 2 of Art. 342 (organization or preparation of actions, and active participation in actions that grossly violate public order), Part 3 of Art. 293 (training or other preparation of persons for participation in mass riots) and Art. 13 Part. 2 of Art. 293 (preparation for participation in riots).
Sanchuk was detained in November 2020 together with ten more participants in a marching percussion band often seen at post-election protests in Minsk in the fall of 2020. The drummer was sentenced to 15 days in prison on illegal protesting charges, but was never released, facing criminal charges, instead.
The musician was reportedly beaten after arrest and reported pressure while speaking in court. He was also forced to appear in a video confession later shown by a government-owned TV channel.
According to the indictment, “under the guise of mass events,” Aliaksei Sanchuk committed acts that grossly breached public order. In particular, he allegedly blocked the roadway, disobeyed police officers, shouted slogans, clapped his hands loudly, and waved a white-red-white flag.
The government-owned city transport operator Minsktrans sued him for 161,900 rubles in damages for obstructing traffic on September 27, October 18, October 4, October 25, and November 1.
Also, according to the investigation, Sanchuk “organized a community where he taught people, urging individuals to take part in group actions that grossly violate public order.” Among other things, Sanchuk allegedly taught people to take part in protests by “clapping their hands loudly,” which “disturbed the peace of citizens.”