Trial against Viasna leadership: Day 2
The trial over Viasna leadership continues in the Lieninski District court of Minsk. Among the defendants is Nobel Peace Prize 2022 laureate Ales Bialiatski.
Viasna members go on trial
Four human rights defenders are being tried: the Viasna chairman and Nobel Peace prize laureate Ales Bialiatski, his deputy Valiantsin Stefanovich, and the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections campaign coordinator Uladzimir Labkovich are in the dock while Zmitser Salauyou, who had to leave Belarus, will be tried in absentia. They are charged with “smuggling by an organized group” under Part 4 Article 228 of the Criminal Code and “financing of group actions grossly violating the public order” under Part 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code.
Trial against Viasna leadership: Day 1
Ales Bialiatski, Uladzimir Labkovich, and Valiantsin Stefanovic filed motions to conduct the trial in the Belarusian language and to remove the handcuffs, as they degrade their dignity. The first petition was not granted by the judge, and the second was not even considered. Rights advocates continue to communicate in the Belarusian language in the courtroom.
Zmitser Salauyou, who is being tried in absentia, said he knew neither the name nor even the gender of the court-appointed lawyer who shall represent him at court.
The trial now proceeds with the questioning of witnesses. There are about 100 of them in the case.
On January 5, the founder and editor-in-chief of an independent opposition newspaper Narodnaya volya Iosif Siaredzich was interviewed and the testimony of human rights defender Alena Laptsionak was read out. The other witnesses did not appear at the trial. It is known that the editor-in-chief of another independent newspaper Novy Chas Aksana Kolb was also announced as a witness.
On 6 January the interrogation of witnesses continues in court. Vasil Zdaniuk, editor-in-chief of an independent media SN plus, was questioned today. He told the court that he received money from Alena Laptsionak for publishing articles written by employees of the Human Rights Center Viasna.
The witness was presented with money receipts, indicating that he had received payments exceeding two thousand euros. This surprised and angered him, as he said he had never received such sums.
Since Aksana Kolb, Novy Chas editor-in-chief, was forced to leave Belarus due to persecution and couldn't be interrogated in person, her testimony given during the investigation was read out. Several other independent media, such as Narodnaya Volya, Brestskaya hazieta, and 6TVby, are also mentioned in the case files.