Political prisoner sentenced to 18 months in prison for six comments in Telegram chats
On November 22, the Saviecki District Court of Homeĺ sentenced political prisoner Yauhen Markavets to 1.5 years in a general-security penal colony under Part 1 of Art. 342 (organization of actions that grossly violate public order) and Art. 369 (public insult of a government official) of the Criminal Code. The trial lasted almost two months. Markavets has been in custody for six months.
According to the indictment, in August and September last year Markavets posted “calls for illegal actions” in several Telegram chats. He also published an “insulting comment” targeting a riot policeman. The case file mentions six comments. Among them are “It’s time to remember the guerrilla traditions of our ancestors, to act in secret,” “It’s time to wire the railway tracks. If en masse, it is effective,” “Our strength is in unity, we need (drivers who were deprived of their licenses for honking) to gather 50 people and arrive at the traffic police building” and others.
Yauhen Markavets pleaded guilty in part. He admitted posting an insulting comment, but he did not call for actions that “grossly violated public order”.
“I actually insulted a riot policeman I didn’t know personally,” Yauhen explained in court. “I believed the information I read about him in the Telegram channel, I was emotional and may have slandered an innocent person.”
The alleged victim found out about the “insult” only from the investigator.
Yauhen Markavets explained in court that he was very shocked by the beating of protesters, even those held in police stations, so he wrote these comments emotionally, expressing his opinion, rather than calling for specific illegal actions.
“None of the messages I wrote in the Telegram chat can be regarded as a recommendation or instruction. Therefore, I cannot be accused of organizing any actions,” the political prisoner stressed.