21 February 2018, Wednesday, 12:33
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Activists Called To Recognize Participant In March Of Disgruntled Belarusians As Political Prisoner

SVIATASLAU BARANOVICH

Participants in the forum Freedom for Political Prisoners of Belarus called to recognize Sviataslau Baranovich as a political prisoner.

He is waiting behind bars for a trial for allegedly using violence against disguised policemen after the March of Disgruntled Belarusians. He faces up to 6 years of imprisonment, Radio Svaboda reports.

Sviataslau Baranovich is a participant in the protest rally against the falsification of the 2010 presidential elections. After the Square, he was put on probation for 3 years.

Since October 2017, Sviataslau Baranovich, who used to be engaged in the construction business in Minsk, has been kept in a pre-trial detention center. It became known in early January. According to investigators, Baranovich’s case f has already been handed over to the court, but it is not reported to which one.

Participants in the forum Freedom for Political Prisoners of Belarus, including Hanna Shaputska, Aleh Vouchak, Pavel Seviarynets, Andrei Bandarenka, Katsiaryna Sadouskaya, Volha Mikalaichyk, Mikalai Autukhovich and others, have voted to include Sviataslau Baranovych in the list of political prisoners, since they believe this is the case of "persecution for political reasons."

They urge human rights activists and politicians of Belarus to join the solidarity campaign with Sviataslau Baranovich.

Forum coordinator Hanna Shaputska has reported why she voted for recognizing Baranovich as a political prisoner.

"According to my information, the incident, after which the case against Sviataslau Baranovich was initiated, was as follows. After the March of Disgruntled Belarusians, unknown persons started to detain the marchers – young anarchists, who wanted to take a trolleybus from Bangalore Square. Those persons were in civilian clothes and did not introduce themselves as policemen. There was a fight, in which Sviataslau Baranovich took part. But he, like the others, did not know that was fighting with police officers, since they had not introduced themselves and were in civilian clothes. He could take those people for hooligans and, accordingly, offered them resistance. So what's his fault? And the fact that he has allegedly pleaded guilty under arrest is also understandable. They have pressed on him, because his political views are well known, and they are taking revenge," – Hanna Shaputska says.

The investigative committee has not commented on the information that a group of Belarusian human rights activists recognized Sviataslau Baranovich as a political prisoner.

"The Investigative Committee conducted a preliminary investigation, and we cannot add anything else. The court will pass its judgement on this case," – IC press secretary Siarhei Kabakovich said.

Having recognized Sviataslau Baranovich as a political prisoner, the forum Freedom for Political Prisoners of Belarus sent an open letter to Prosecutor General of Belarus Aliaksandr Kaniuk, in which human rights activists ask to give a legal assessment of the police officers’ actions during the march in March 2017.

"We are outraged by such lawlessness of law enforcement bodies and we demand to carry out a prosecutor check of the actions of employees, who on 15.03.2017, being at work without uniforms and insignia, without introducing themselves, without showing a service certificate, attacked brutally peaceful Minsk citizens, acted brazenly, unprofessionally, despite the fact that according to Paragraph 10 of Chapter 3 of the "Rules of professional ethics of the internal affairs bodies’ employees of the Republic of Belarus", they are obliged to show patience, civility, tact, well-wishing and respect, when communicating with citizens," – the human rights activists say in the statement.