Vitsebsk activist called the victory in court “the first step in our struggle for the white-red-white flag.”
The court of Pershamaiski district of Vitsebsk on April 24 ruled on the lawsuit of activist Mikalai Kachurets, who sought a white-red-white flag, illegally confiscated during the BPR-100 action, returned to him, writes Vitsebsk Spring. However, as it became known later, the flag was destroyed.
The court only partially satisfied the claim of Mikalai Kachurets, who asked to recover 42 rubles from the Kastrychnitski district department of internal affairs for the white-red-white flag destroyed in 2018. Judge Alena Savitskaya estimated the damage as 8 rubles 30 kapeykas. According to the decision of the court, the police must also pay the activist part of the court costs - 42 kapeykas. It all totals to 8.72 rubles. This amount will be paid from the republican budget.
At the court hearing on April 24, Mikalai Kachurets documented the cost of the damage (42 rubles). He provided the court with a price from the online store Symbal.by, where a white-red-white flag costs 20 rubles, as well as documents about the prices of the flagpole (plastic pipe) and tickets for the trip to Minsk and back.
Policeman Dzmitry Zhuk, who represented the Kastrychnitski district police department in court, stated that he did not agree with the indicated amount of the claim. According to the defendant, the destroyed flag was not new, it looked bad, and it’s cost “could be assessed by the weight of the fabric”. Nevertheless, Zhuk asked the court to attach the price lists from the Selena store, where you can buy white and red fabric at a price of 2.50 rubles for 1 m., and also - a certificate from a seamstress, who would undertake to produce a similar flag for 7 rubles.
Thus, according to the judge’s calculations, the cost of the damage caused by the destruction of the white-red-white flag was even less than the sum the defendant offered to pay.
“It is clear that for these 8.72 rubles I can neither buy nor sew a new flag. The court underestimated its cost five-fold. Nevertheless, I consider this decision a small victory, the first step in our struggle for the white-red-white flag. Perhaps such a result will force police officers to think before seizing, and then destroying sacred things,” Mikalai Kachurets said after the trial.
Vitsebsk human rights activist Leanid Svetsik says that this is the first (at least in the Vitsebsk region) case when the police will be forced to return the cost of the destroyed national flag to its owner. Still, he adds that the decision of the judge cannot be called impartial.
“It is a pity that the civil lawsuit of political activist Mikalai Kachurets to the police officers was only partially satisfied by the court. After all, the evidence of the amount of the claim was convincing and well-documented. The court actually took upon itself the search for such evidence that contributed to the maximum reduction of the flag cost, to ensure the reduction of payment of material damage by the defendant. In this case, the decision of the court cannot be called impartial and fair with regard to the claimant,” human rights activist Leanid Svetsik commented on the decision of the court.
Important to note, in 2018, on the Freedom Day, Mikalai Kachurets went out with a white-red-white flag to the monument to Prince Alhierd in Vitsebsk, was detained and fined by the Kastrychnitski district court for 30 base fees (under Part 2 of Article 23.34, and Article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). The regional court upheld the decision. However, on August 25, the chairman of the regional court overturned the decision of the Kastrychnitski district court, and sent the administrative case back for reconsideration. On October 27, it was closed due to the expiration of the term of administrative punishment.