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Minsk court hands down heavy jail sentences in absentia over attack on Belarusian embassy in london

2023 2023-08-30T16:13:57+0300 2023-08-30T16:13:57+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On August 30, the Minsk Municipal Court handed down the verdict in the case following the attack on Belarusian embassy in London on December 19, 2021. Siarhei Rabushak, Aliaksandr Napreyenka, Maksim Zuyeu, and Vadzim Bahakou were convicted in absentia of “intentional acts aimed at inciting hatred” under part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, “intentionally damaging property, resulting in significant loss” under part 3 of Article 218, and  “violence or threats against officials” under part 1 of Article 366. Judge Dzina Kuchuk sentenced Zuyeu and Bahakou to 10 years and Rabushak and Napreyenka to eight years. These are the terms requested by prosecutor Aliaksandr Karol.

According to the prosecution, the accused are alleged members of an informal political group of Belarusian migrants named “Nadzieja” (bel. 'hope') influenced by online sources. Acting on political and ideological animosity grounds, they are said to have pelted the embassy's façade with eggs and set up an offensive installation by the building's entrance between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time. Upon the arrival of three embassy staff members, protesters verbally abused and physically assaulted them, resulting in injuries. 

The prosecution also suggests “the defendants were driven by a criminal sense of permissiveness cultivated through internet sources, Telegram channels, chats, and other extremist information outlets that artificially incite protest sentiments.” It is noted that Napreyenka recorded the incident on his phone.

“The footage was intended to be distributed online if needed to spread false heroism and to foster hostile socio-psychological sentiments among the public. It was assumed that radical individuals, including Belarusian citizens residing in the UK, would discuss the video,” the indictment reads.

The damage to the embassy's façade was estimated to be over 142,000 Belarusian rubles (approx. $56,200).

The UK police investigated the embassy attack. However, according to the Prosecutor General's office of Belarus, they declined Belarus' request to extradite the accused. The defendants remain outside Belarus and were tried in absentia. Any property they had left within the country has been confiscated.


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