The court shocked by delivering severe sentences to presidential candidates and participants of post-election protests on December 19.
The Leninski district court of Minsk found Belarusian presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Dzmitry Uss guilty of organizing mass riot on December 19 and sentenced them respectively to 6 and 5.5 years in a medium security penal colony.
Uss, who earlier had been released on his own recognizance, was taken into custody in the courtroom.
Former policeman Alyaksandr Klaskouski was given 5 years in a medium security penal colony. Besides organizing and participating in mass riot, Klaskouski was charged under article 369 “insulting a representative of the authorities” and article 382 “unauthorized appropriation of the title or power of an official”.
The court pronounced verdicts to the persons charged with violation of part 2 of article 293 of the Criminal Code (participating in mass riot). Alyaksandr Kvyatkevich was given 3.5 years’imprisonment, Dzmitry Bulanau got 3 years’ sentence, and Artsyom Hrybkou was sentenced to 4 years in prison with compulsory treatment of alcohol dependence.
The verdict was pronounced by judge Lyudmila Hrachova. Prosecutor Kiryl Chubkavets asked to sentence Mikalai Statkevich to 8 years in a medium security penal colony, Dzmitry Uss to 7 years in a medium security penal colony, participants of the demonstration Alyaksandr Klaskouski to 8.5 years in a medium security penal colony, Alyaksandr Kvyatkevich to 4 years in a medium security penal colony, Andrei Paznyak to 4 years in a medium security penal colony, Dzmitry Bulanau to 4 years in a medium security penal colony, Artsyom Hrubkou to 4 years in a medium security penal colony and compulsory treatment of alcohol dependence.
The lawyers insisted the charges with organizing and participating in the so called mass disorders were unlawful. Actions by a small group of people as a result of a preplanned provocation cannot be considered mass disorders. Besides, no proofs of arsons and violent attacks on the Square were presented in the court. On the contrary, the facts prove that metal sticks and bottles with liquid “found” on the square were planted. First records of inspection of the Square say it was clean. There was no armed disobedience to law-enforcement officers, because demonstrators did not have any weapons. Moreover, the alleged injuries of riot policemen were slight and most of them were not confirmed by forensic medical examination.
Mikalai Statkevich and Dzmitry Uss never called to violence at their meetings with voters or on the Square. They just said peaceful struggle against election fraud was needed.
Observers suppose that the severe sentence to Mikalai Statkevich can be explained with personal revenge of Lukashenka. The presidential candidates addressed to him in an informal way during the election debates on TV and urged: “Give back what you stole! Give back elections to people!”
Another presidential candidate, Andrei Sannikov, who was considered Lukashenka’s main rival, was sentenced to 5 years in a medium security penal colony. Other candidates, Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu and Vital Rymasheuski, were given suspended prison terms.