12 November 2019, Tuesday, 22:58
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Harry Pahanyajla: Ozharovski should file lawsuit against those who put him in remand prison

According to Belarusian human rights activists, the illegally arrested Russian ecologist must recover at least moral damage from the Belarusian authorities.

The Information Ministry of Belarus decided to close the case concerning administration violation by Russian ecologist Andrei Ozharovski for dissemination of printed copies of “Critical remarks concerning Belarusian nuclear power station’s preliminary environmental impact statement”, and to return printed materials seized from him, the decision of the Information Ministry of Belarus #16 of November 3, a copy of which was received by BelaPAN agency.

We remind that Russian nuclear physicist, a coordinator of “Ekozaschita” group (Moscow) Andrei Ozharovski was detained in Astravets (Hrodna region) on October 9. He arrived there to take part in public hearings dedicated to the public hearing dedicated to the preliminary report on environmental impact assessment of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. 94 copies of printed materials “Critical remarks concerning Belarusian nuclear power station’s preliminary environmental impact statement” were seized from him. In the moment of detention Ozharovski was not handing out printed materials, as he said. Astravets court charged him with petty hooliganism and sentenced him to 7 days of arrest in the local remand prison.

In the decree signed by the deputy Information Minister of Belarus Ihar Lapstyonak, it is said that there is no elements of administrative offence in actions of Ozharovski. “According to Part 2 Article 22.9 of the Special part of the Administrative Code of Belarus, imposition of administrative sanctions takes place under condition that printed materials without imprint are distributed. Seized materials are not a printed periodical,” the document notes.

The deputy Information Minister ruled to dismiss the case and return printed materials to the activist.

Euromost.org has asked the lawyer of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Harry Pahanyajla to comment on this decision.

- How would you estimate the actions of the authorities from the legal point of view?

- Every agency aims to do and implement what they wan without paying any attention to the law, and as rule, mindlessly. That is why when a person succeeds and a true verdict is passed, it becomes clear that there is a violation of the law in the actions of the authorities. Though it is a rare occasion when one succeeds to prove something, sometimes in such a struggle something is achieved still. It is obvious that in the case of Ozharovski these actions of the authorities are not more than a desire to punish and impinge upon interests of a person who furnishes information opposing the information the authorities want to hear. In particular, in the case when a nuclear power station construction is in question.

- You said that the law had been violated in this case. What would you recommend to Ozharovski: to sue those who charged him with a crime he didn’t commit?

- Certainly. I would recover at least moral damage from these rascals. A person was placed behind the bars for 7 days for nothing!

- What was behind the events with the Russian ecologist: politics, economy or just a disinclination of the Belarusian authorities to respect public opinion?

- It is all politics. It’s a policy of the regime aimed at crackdown on civil society, on persecution of dissent n the country. It is pure politics. And its implementers are different ministries and agencies, certain officials. They to not pay attention to the law at all, they perform orders of regional administrations or higher officials.

- Our authorities are very interested in construction of a nuclear power station. At the same time, all construction contracts are given to the Russian side. And it would be constructed for Russian money. Maybe it is connected with the desire to cave in to Russian contract holders?

- All construction contracts are really given to the Russian side, and it is predictable. But Belarusians resist not because Russians will build it, but because it is a decision of our government and of our political leader. Opponents of the nuclear power station construction will certainly resist this construction in the way they can, look for other forms of protest except informing. And the reaction of our authorities is in general predictable.

- It means that protests would go on and detentions like Andrei Ozharovski’s will go on?

- Certainly. It is obvious it will happen like this.