First verdict under “special proceeding” trial pronounced
On January 18, the first verdict in absentia was pronounced in the Minsk Municipal Court following the “special proceedings” against Black Book of Belarus project admins. Tribuna.com and sports.ru co-founder Dzmitryi Navosha, Yanina Sazanovich, Daniila Bahdanovich, Valeryia Zaniamonskaya, and Volha Vysotskaya were sentenced to 12 years in jail each.
The decision of Judge Natallia Buhuk is fully consistent with the terms of imprisonment requested by the prosecutor. All defendants were convicted of inciting social hatred (part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code) and illegal actions with respect to personal data (part 3 of Article 203-1 of the Criminal Code) for the administration of a Black Book of Belarus Telegram channel which collected data on security officers involved in repressions. The KGB put the defendants on the list of terrorists. The trial was closed to the public and continued for about a month.
The accused and other persons “united in a criminal group, as part of which they created and administered the Black Book of Belarus Telegram channel and other similar resources”, the prosecution stated. The Prosecutor General's Office stated before the trial that the main purpose of the project was to discredit the authorities and law enforcement agencies, incite hatred against them and other persons who "stand up for law and order and the existing constitutional order in the country", spread defamatory information about them and incitement to extremist crimes.
"A criminal group illegally collected and posted in the open access information about the private life and personal data of hundreds of citizens in connection with their professional activities. Among them were police officers, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and journalists. After the publications, crimes were committed against some of them, including destruction and damage to property and threats of violence,” reads the indictment.