The Belarusian presidential candidate was sentenced for his protest against the falsified elections.
The judgement was delivered by judge Natallya Chatvertkova. Prosecutor Anton Zaharouski demanded to give Andrei Sannikov 7 years in a medium security penal colony.
Participants of a protest demonstration against the election fraud, who stood trial with Sannikov, also got long terms of imprisonment: Illya Vasilevich – 3 years in a medium security penal colony; Aleh Hnedchyk – 3.5 years in a medium security penal colony; Fyodar Mirzayanau – 3 years in a medium security penal colony; Uladzimir Yaromenak – 3 years in a medium security penal colony.
Independent observers think the severe sentence to the Belarusian presidential candidate can be explained with Lukashenka’s desire to take revenge upon and settle scores with his strongest rival.
According to independent observers and human rights activists, it was Sannikov was gathered most of the votes at polling stations, where falsifications were prevented.
Andrei Sannikov made a loud statement in court before the verdict was announced. He said that humiliating tortures, pressure and threats applied to him in the KGB jail. Masked men from an unknown special division armed with batons and electroshock weapon maltreated political prisoners in the KGB jail. During a period of interrogations, Sannikov had to sleep on the floor under a bunk; suffered from denigrating searches, when he had to stand naked by the wall with feet wider than shoulders; handcuffed, he had his arms twisted and was hit in his legs with a baton. KGB chairman Zaitsau had personal conversations with Sannikov and threatened the life and health of his wife and son.
The politician’s lawyers are convinced that the very fact of mass riot in Minsk on December 19 was not proved during the investigation. The proofs of the case show that the territory where riot was noticed is limited to some dozens square metres near the entrance to the House of Government, while Independence Square was a place for a peaceful protest rally against the rigged election results.
There were no actions that threatened health of other persons. None of civilians suffered. On the contrary, it was riot policemen who brutally beat peaceful demonstrators.
Bringing Sannikov to responsibility under this article was illegal. The case does not contain any proofs that Sannikov intended to organize mass disorders. There were no violent attacks, arsons, or armed disobedience to police. The property, damaged by provocateurs, was repaired. The provocation was allowed by police, who did not prevent it purposefully. The presidential candidates called to stop these actions and not to get involved in provocations.
The mass event was peaceful. The calls to come to the square and wait for the results of the presidential elections do not violate the Constitution. Sannikov called on the representatives of the authorities to begin a dialogue during the mass action.
Andrei Sannikov is a former deputy foreign minister of Belarus. He worked in the UN secretariat and headed a Belarusian delegation at the talks over conventional and nuclear disarmament. He resigned in 1996 protesting against the referendum that allowed changes in the country’s Constitution.