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Brest court convicts fifth group of defendants in “dancing protest” trial. Two political prisoners released in courtroom

2021 2021-06-03T16:42:52+0300 2021-06-03T16:48:40+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The Maskoŭski District Court of Brest ruled today in what is known as the “dancing protest trial”, convicting thirteen more protesters under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code.

They were found guilty and sentenced to terms ranging between 18 months of “home confinement” to 1 year in prison for participating in a protest on September 13, 2020. Hundreds danced and sang songs at an intersection in central Brest, but despite being completely peaceful the protest was dispersed by a water cannon and dozens faced criminal charges.

As a result, Judge Yauhen Brehan handed down the following sentences:

  • Andrei Aniskevich – 1 1/2 years of restricted freedom (“khimiya”);
  • Alena Loika and Halina Chuhunova – 1 ½ years of “home confinement” each;
  • political prisoners Radzivon Medusheuski and Ihar Vinakurau – 1 ½ years of “home confinement” each. Both were released from custody in the courtroom. The convicts spent 10 weeks in detention and will be re-arrested after they inevitably lose their appeals;
  • Andrei Niamirski, Dzmitry Kurhanau, Katsiaryna Smirnova, Mikita Uvarau, Safiya Nisht and Siarhei Ksenzhuk – 1 ½ years of “home confinement” each;
  • Illia Palkhouski – 2 years of restricted freedom (“khimiya”);
  • political prisoner Aliaksandr Khrapko – 1 year in a maximum-security penal colony.

These exact terms were earlier requested by the prosecutors.

A dozen more defendants in the case are expected to stand trial in the coming weeks.

Protesters dancing at an intersection in central Brest. September 13, 2020

According to the prosecution, each of the accused in a group with other persons intentionally took an active part in group actions that grossly violated public order (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Their actions were allegedly combined with a clear disobedience to the lawful demands of the authorities, causing disruption of transport, businesses and organizations. In particular, the trolleybus depot reportedly lost 619 rubles 55 kopecks in damages, and the bus depot – 40 rubles 37 kopecks. In addition, three outdoor concession stands and a KFC restaurant were forced to close during the protest.

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