20 February 2020, Thursday, 16:33
The Wait Is Nearly Over

Artist Ales Pushkin Fined For Action Near Euroopt Store

Artist Ales Pushkin Fined For Action Near Euroopt Store
Photo: RFE / RL

The artist considers his actions to be an artistic performances.

Krupki district court found Ales Pushkin guilty of holding an unsanctioned event on June 6 at the porch of the Euroopt store. The artist considers his actions to be an artistic performance, Radio Svaboda informs.

On June 6 at 16:30 Ales Pushkin went to the Euroopt store in the center of Krupki with posters “Achtung Russia!” and “Bloodymir!” with the images of Putin, as well as posters “Stop Russian Aggression in Europe”, “Russia Means War!”, “Belarus to NATO”, and the flag of the North Atlantic Alliance. Half an hour later he was arrested. Pushkin refused to go himself - and the police dragged him into a car by force.

He was released from the police department in a day.

"I was almost beaten for asking," Where do you have instant coffee here? "

According to Pushkin, on May 8, he came to the Euroopt store in Krupki and asked the store employee where to find instant coffee. But he did not understand, he insulted the Belarusian language and provoked Pushkin for a fight.

"He pulled me out of the store, another officer joined, they almost beat me."

After the incident, the artist turned to the prosecutor's office, but they did not find the violation of the law.

"The state system stands in defense not of a Belarusian-speaking citizens, but of those who violate the law on the state language," Pushkin protested in court.

Pushkin said that he made the posters against Putin specifically for the action.

"What would happen if Putin gives Russian passports to people like those Euroopt employees?" he said in court.

Camouflage uniforms, sunglasses and a bandage on his face, according to Pushkin, symbolized the "polite people", which in 2014 took over the Crimea. In this way he wanted to show how "dangerous for all of us if we do not see the threat coming from the east."

Photo: RFE / RL

Pushkin hoisted the poster "Belarus to NATO", as he believes that "NATO is the only force that can stop the seizure of Belarus by Russia," he said in court.

With his action, Pushkin also wanted to ensure that Euroopt will recruit staff with the knowledge of the Belarusian language - not only in Krupki, but in the whole of Belarus.

Photo: RFE / RL

He did not obtain a permission from the authorities, because he believes the share was the artistic rather than political.

"Imagine: I have inspiration in the morning, and I give an open-air in your beautiful street in Krupki. So what, ask for permission? "

"My aim is to attract the attention of the society with the means of art," Pushkin said in court.

The artist admitted that when the police dragged him to a service car, he "resisted passively." And this, according to the artist, was part of the artistic ideas. "That performance continued to then was the maximum publicity." At the same time, he noted that he had hit no one and inflicted no harm.

Photo: RFE / RL

"I could do other things." What harm did Pushkin cause to the police?

Unexpected turn in the case was the decision of the Krupki district police department that Pushkin street action inflicted damage to the police. Major Vital Tabakerka, who detained the artist, was considered a victim in the case.

Pushkin’s lawyer Vadzim Mushynski called this a nonsense.

Major Taberka said that there was no damage from Ales Pushkin’s actions. "Maybe, it’s just he distracted our attention from the performance of duties. I could do other things", said the victim.

Valer Buival acted as an art critic in court. He said that Pushkin did not hold a rally, and performance is in the cultural traditions of the Belarusian people.

"It was a call for peace, against war, the action was of a clear humanistic character", said Mr. Buival.

Photo: RFE / RL

What did the lawyer of Ales Pushkin say?

Belarusians are often prosecuted for expressing their opinions, including the protection of the Belarusian language.

There was no an administrative violation in the actions of Ales Pushkin.

His detention was unlawful.

If there was damage to a police officer, it would be a criminal case, but not administrative.

After viewing the video from the event judge fined Pushkin for BYN 204 - both for the unauthorized action and for damages to a policeman.

Ales Pushkin will not appeal the sentence: "I'm afraid they will impose a bigger fine."