Court fined Ivan Kruk without questioning main witness

2010 2010-07-07T19:40:43+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Ivan Kruk

Ivan Kruk

Ivan Kruk, a civil activist from Astravets, was fined 1, 050 000 rubles (about $350) for the alleged libel against an official of the Astravets District Executive Committee during the last election.

van Kruk composed a complaint to the Hrodna region election commission for elector Uladzimir Maskevich. In this document, Maskevich stated that Zimnitski had made him refuse from his signature in support of the candidacy of Ivan Kruk. This complaint was forwarded to the Astravets district executive committee for consideration. According to Mr. Kruk, at that time Mr. Maskevich was summoned to the DEC and made to refuse from his complaint under the threat of dismissal from work.

Then Zimnitski wrote a complaint asking to instigate a criminal case against Kruk for libeling him in the complaint. The procuracy refused to do it, as it was the first case of libel, and an administrative case was brought instead of it. However, the plaintiff didn’t come to the trial. Moreover, the only witness changed his testimony several times and was also absent during today's sitting. Nevertheless, the trial was finished without him. Ivan Kruk also solicited for the interrogation of other witnesses who came to the trial, but these motions were declined by the judge.

'I think that the trial followed a scenario that had been prepared in advance. Why wasn't the main and only witness present at the sitting? Only the testimonies of the interested side are taken into account. That's all,' commented Mr. Kruk.

Mikalai Ulasevich, who had also tried to register their candidacies at the election were present at the trial. They state that they were denied registration for the same reasons, and intended to tell the judge about it, but he didn't want to listen to them.

Mikalai Ulasevich was astonished at how the court sitting was conducted. According to him, the fact that the court sided with Zimnitski was evident even to a person without juridical education. The judge even helped the plaintiff to formulate his definition of Kruk's libel against him.

'They know well enough that they must defend not only Zimnitski, but the system of rigging the elections that exists in our district. To their mind, we made a most terrible thing by stating that such people as Zimnitski were doing falsifications.'

Liudmila Shushko was so ashamed of what she saw and heard at the trial, that she went out before the end of the trial. 'Zimnitski kept telling insults, even that Kruk had collected signatures for bottles of vodka. I don’t know why Kruk didn’t sue him immediately. I'm shocked at how Zimnitski humiliated Kruk,' she said.

Ivan Kruk stated his intention to appeal the verdict at the regional court.