Disabled person without legs punished for streamer “Who has stolen my benefits?”

2008 2008-10-30T15:52:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The court has punished wheelchaired Uladzimir Vusikau for conducting a picket near the building of Mahiliou city executive committee.

On October 28 the court of Leninski district of Mahiliou has sentenced the disabled person to a fine of 2 minimal basic units, or 70,000 rubles. Judge Iryna Saroka has found him guilty of holding a picket near the building of Mahiliou city executive committee. The disabled person demanded to be reinstated in the queue for receiving a public welfare home, and also to receive compensation for the cost of a voucher for sanatorium-resort therapy. During the picket he was holding a streamer with the words: “Who has stolen by benefits?”

Uladzimir Vusikau was carried into the court, and when leaving the court, he had to leave the wheelchair in order to go downstairs. He defended himself in the court. He didn’t plead guilty.

“The matter is, all the laws are formulated in order to punish. And to clear oneself of a charge in the court and to prove that there is Constitution which allows a person to come and express one’s thought not in a way of hooliganism, but simply as a person, it is also forbidden. I already see that it is impossible to defend one’s rights,” Uladzimir Vusikau told RFE/RL after the trial.

Uladzimir Vusikau told to the court that he had been forced to come to the city executive committee by the actions of officials. First, he explained, he wasn’t given a voucher for rest in a sanatorium, and later its cost wasn’t’ compensated to him.

The last straw, according to Vusikau, was removing him from the queue for receiving social housing, on the reason that his pension is higher than the minimum subsistence level by 150,000 Br.

“Then I told to officials that I announce the hunger strike and I will picket the city executive committee with my demands. Where are my benefits? I do not travel in the public transport. I have arrived here to the court in a taxi. What for do I need these tricky benefits and free public transport when I cannot visit my family who live out of town?” Vusikau said to the court.

A policeman, working for the department of guarding Maxim Prens, who was on duty in the city executive committee on the day of the picket, and the salesperson of the newspaper stand in the city executive committee Larysa Korzun provided their explanations. They both confirmed that they saw Vusikau with streamers near the entrance to the city executive committee.

The two policemen who were witnesses in the case, Burmistrau and Zahorski, haven’t appeared in the court.

The witness of Uladizmir Vusikau, Ihar Kavalenka, called actions of the policemen who studied the details of the unsanctioned rally of the disabled person, inhuman. According to Kavalenka, they talked to him improperly rudely. Mr Kavalenka told to the court that it is he who called up a representative of the social service of the city executive committee to Vusikau, for his rights to be explained to him.

Judge Iryna Saroka, who had announced the verdict before that, reminded U. Vusikau that he has a right for holding protests, but only after permission of appropriate authorities. She sentenced the disabled person to a minimal fine of 70,000 Br. As explained by the judge, when issuing the verdict she considered the fact that administrative action has never been brought against Vusikau, and also his physical state and the size of the pension.

Uladzimir Vusikau was taken to the court by his acquaintance, a taxi-driver. He was brought into the building by a journalist and a passer-by. The judge met him near the entrance. The policeman on duty hasn’t allowed journalists to make pictures in the court, referring to the order of the justice department of the regional executive committee.

U. Vusikau lives in a two-room apartment with two adult sons, a grandson, and a wife which whom he had divorced 14 years ago. The entrance of his house is not suitable for a wheelchair person. In order to get into the escalator, he constructed a wooden entrance ramp himself.

Uladzimir Vusikau was removed from the queue for receiving the social housing because his pension was higher than the minimum subsistence level. His pension is 350,000, and the minimum subsistence level is 224,000 BYR.