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"We do not serve the occupiers." The manager of an auto parts store, who refused to sell the goods to the Russian military, convicted

2023 2023-02-21T16:23:18+0300 2023-02-21T17:46:49+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On February 16, a 65-year-old manager of an auto parts store, Viktar Makarenka, was sentenced in the Baranavičy City and District Court for refusing to sell goods to the military personnel of the Russian Federation and calling them occupiers. The man was charged under Article 190 of the Criminal Code (violation of the equality of citizens). Judge Artsiom Padalyanets, at the request of Prosecutor Sviatlana Pasemka, imposed a fine of 300 basic units (4 150 euros) on Viktar. Makarenka's individual business activity, which he had been involved in since 1993, was terminated by the decision of the economic court at the suit of a local prosecutor.

Judge Artsiom Padalyanets and prosecutor Sviatlana Pasemka. Screenshot from a video from the Brest Shopping Mall trial

What happened?

On October 28, 2022, one of the pro-government Telegram channels published a post where the detention of the manager of an auto parts store in Baranavičy was reported. According to its information, the man told his subordinate: "Don't sell them anything, they are occupiers." By occupiers he meant the military personnel of the Russian Federation.

The manager of the auto parts store was detained. That pro-government Telegram channel claimed that after the detention the evidence of the man's participation in the 2020 protests was found, as well as the facts of money transfers made to the Armed Forces of Ukraine after February 24.

The man was indeed detained as part of a criminal case under Article 190 of the Criminal Code (violation of the equality of citizens) for three days, and also arrested for 15 days under Article 19.11 of the Administrative Code (dissemination of extremist materials).

Before the trial, the man was out of jail.

What has he been accused of?

According to the prosecution version, Makarenka, being an individual entrepreneur, on October 20, 2022, from 9:30 to 11:30, "deliberately on the basis of a negatively hostile attitude towards the military personnel of the Russian Federation, which arose due to the special military operation conducted by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, in violation of the equality of rights and freedoms of a person and citizen, created an obstacle to the full realization of rights and freedoms, depriving them, as the owner of the store, of servicing and selling goods — spare parts for vehicles to the military personnel of the Russian Federation Barakhtin Denis Olegovich and Golovko Alexander Evgenievich. As well as giving incorrect instructions to the seller, thereby limiting the right to equal access and free choice of goods provided for in Article 10 of the Law of November 9, 2002 "On Protection of Consumer Rights"."

Thus, Makarenka "deliberately restricted the rights and freedoms of citizens depending on their nationality and official position, caused significant damage to the rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests of citizens, thereby committing a crime under Article 190 of the Criminal Code."

Did the accused admit his guilt?

Viktar Makarenka said he would plead guilty only to making the victims feel hurt. He noted at the trial that the Russian military had no claims against him, and it was a Belarusian serviceman who initiated the criminal case.

At the trial, Viktor said that on October 20, 2022, he went into the store and saw three servicemen, two of them had chevrons with the letter "Z" on their sleeves. Without addressing anyone, he said these words: "We do not serve the occupiers." After that, one of these soldiers asked: "And why do you consider us occupiers?" To this Victar replied: "Because your army has invaded Ukraine and is killing people there." The store manager explained that he had not given any instructions to the saleswoman. She continued to serve the customers, including the Belarusian serviceman. At the same time, one military man probably got angry and left the trading room. The Belarusian serviceman purchased spare parts for his colleagues in this store anyway – there is a corresponding receipt in the case file.

At the trial, only the Belarusian serviceman was interrogated — Dzmitryi Viktaravich Beidzyuk from the military unit 97035, who came to the store with the servicemen of the Russian Federation. The latter were not questioned at the trial because "there is information that they are located outside the Republic of Belarus and the city of Baranavičy." At the trial, their testimony, given during interrogations at the preliminary investigation and at the confrontation, was read out.

The Belarusian serviceman said that in October he was on a business trip to the 230th combined arms training range. On the morning of October 20, he received an order to escort the servicemen of the Russian Federation to the city of Baranavičy to purchase spare parts for official cars. The incident occurred in the store.

Prosecutor Sviatlana Pasemka requested a fine of 300 basic units (4 150 euros) for Makarenka. Judge Artsiom Padalyanets imposed this exact punishment.

Even before the trial, a Baranavičy prosecutor sent a lawsuit to the economic court to terminate the activities of the individual entrepreneur Makarenka. On December 19, 2022, the economic court stopped his activities. Viktar Makarenka had been working as an individual entrepreneur since 1993, now the man is retired.

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