4 to 7 years in prison: opposition activists, blogger convicted in Mahilioŭ
The Mahilioŭ Regional Court announces today its verdict in a criminal trial involving seven political prisoners: co-chair of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party Pavel Seviarynets, blogger Dzmitry Kazlou, community activist Iryna Shchasnaya, and European Belarus activists Yauhen Afnahel, Pavel Yukhnevich, Maksim Viniarski and Andrei Voinich.
The political prisoners were accused of preparing to take part in riots under Part 1 of Art. 13 and Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code. Afnahel and Voinich faced additional charges under Part 3 of Art. 293.
Judge Iryna Lanchava sentenced Pavel Seviarynets, Yauhen Afnahel and Andrei Voinich to 7 years in a medium-security penal colony, Pavel Yukhnevich, Dzmitry Kazlou and Maksim Viniarski – to 5 years in a medium-security penal colony, and Iryna Shchasnaya to 4 years in a general-security penal colony.
The trial was held behind closed doors, since, as explained in court, “the case file belongs to a secret protected by law.” It is therefore unknown what exactly the political prisoners were accused of, whether they pleaded guilty or not, who testified during the trial and what punishment the prosecutor requested for them. It is only known that Pavel Seviarynets completely refused to testify during the trial, according to his wife Volha. All the lawyers involved in the trial were prohibited to disclose any information related to the case. They cannot tell about the essence of the charges and the position of their clients.
State propaganda resources alleged that Seviarynets and other political prisoners were accused of preparing a “color revolution” and a “Belarusian Maidan”. Aliaksandr Ahafonau, a representative of the Investigative Committee (he was also in charge of the case of Uladzimir Niaronski), said in an interview with SB-Belarus Today that Seviarynets, Statkevich and Tsikhanouski had allegedly been distributing online calls for “radical action” and prepared for “riots”.
Dzmitry Kazlou incited Belarusians to protest, the official argued, by “publishing videos that unjustifiably discredited the authorities.” Shchasnaya reportedly posted information about the planned protests in Telegram channels and chats. According to law enforcement officers, Iryna allegedly received 600 rubles a month from Afnahel for running the accounts.
According to the Investigative Committee, Afnahel, Voinich, Viniarski and Yukhnevich, all activists of the opposition group European Belarus, called for protests and strikes, as well as for the disclosure of personal data of security officers, “including by making leaflets with their photos and posting them near their homes.” According to the officials, it was a “criminal system of information dissemination.”
Thus, according to the investigators, the only fault of the political prisoners is that they publicly called for protests and criticized the authorities.