“Ordinary people who want to speak freely”: Brest court convicts more protesters over August “riots”

2021 2021-05-21T15:21:39+0300 2021-05-21T15:21:40+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/brest_palitviazna_90.jpeg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Defendants in one of the Brest "rioting" trials stand up to hear the verdict. May 21, 2021

Defendants in one of the Brest "rioting" trials stand up to hear the verdict. May 21, 2021

Judge Andrei Hrushko of the Lieninski District Court of Brest sentenced thirteen people, including eleven political prisoners and two minors, to various terms in prison over their involvement in the post-election protests of August 2020. The authorities said the mostly peaceful demonstrations were “riots” and qualified them under Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code.

Vitaliya Bandarenka – 4 years in a general-security penal colony;

Dzianis Marusevich – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Uladzimir Rubasheuski – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Mark Salonikau – 4.5 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Viktar Pantsialeyeu – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Danila Bandaruk – 5 years in a medium-security penal colony (under Part 1 of Article 339 and Part 2 of Article 293);

Viachaslau Kastsiuchyk – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Maksim Zinevich – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Mikhail Kalishuk – 4 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Aliaksandr Viniarski, minor – 3 years in a juvenile colony (taken into custody in the courtroom);

Eduard Kudyniuk, minor – 3 years in a juvenile colony (taken into custody in the courtroom);

Andrei Hryshchuk – 3.5 years in a medium-security penal colony;

Siman Kantsevich – 3.5 years in a medium-security penal colony.

All of them were convicted under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (rioting). Danila Bandaruk faced an additional charge of “hooliganism,” as he allegedly broke the side mirror of a police truck.

The convicts were also ordered to share the payment of a claim of 24,000 rubles filed by a number of local government agencies, the city transport operator and the street cleaning service, among others.

Three defendants fully agreed with the charges, seven – only in part. Vitaliya Bandarenka, Danila Bandaruk and Mark Salonikau pleaded not guilty.

According to the investigation, during the protest held in central Brest on August 10, the defendants grossly violated public order, destroyed property and used violence against police officers. They allegedly used boards, sticks, street rubbish bins, fragments of benches, paving slabs and asphalt, bottles, stones, metal bolts, paint cans, firecrackers and other items.

As a result of the riots, according to the investigation, twenty four security officers were injured. Of these, 19 people were recognized as victims in the trial. One police officer received two wounds injuring his thumb, which fall into the category of minor injuries. The others argued they received “bodily blows.”

All victims waived claims for compensation.

One of the defendants, political prisoner Danila Bandaruk, said during a court examination on April 16 that what he had said during the investigation was false.

Bandaruk explained that he was beaten by “unknown people in masks” and thus signed the testimony. The investigator was not involved in the beatings, but instructed him on his testimony.

“August 10 dramatically divided my life to “before” and “after”. Now all I can hear from the state media are open insults, as they are trying to denigrate us, calling us “extremists”, “Nazis”, “terrorists”, “criminals”, “parasites”, “alcoholics” and “drug addicts”. But all of this is brazen lies and slander. In my opinion, it is clear and obvious that we are ordinary people, ordinary citizens who want to speak freely, have the right on freedom of choice and freedom of opinion,” political prisoner Dzianis Marusevich said in court.

Earlier, a court in Brest sentenced nine people to 3 to 4.5 years in prison over participation in the same protest. The convicts were seven political prisoners and two minors.

A total of 22 people have already been sent to prison in the case of the August “riots” in Brest. The remaining defendants are expected to stand trials in the coming weeks.

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