And Carthage, accordingly, must be destroyed.
Yesterday, Minsk resident Olga Kovaleva was sentenced to three years in jail. Everything is as usual: unexpected arrest, three articles of the Criminal Code, four months in jail, trial and verdict. In general, it's a typical story. An important detail that would have seemed like an anomaly, a mistake, a mutation, or something else out of the ordinary a year ago: the prosecutor asked for two years in prison for Olga. However, judge Dmitry Karsiuk went the distance - why one should give her two years, let her get three.
Is this all about Karsiuk? Last year, the human rights activists called him one of the most repressive judges. He sent dozens of political prisoners to jail and if one adds up all the terms he sentenced them to, one can wrap up the equator. It's not Karsiuk's personal initiative. Belsat journalist Iryna Slavnikava was tried not in the Central Court of Minsk but in Homel. The prosecutor demanded four years of imprisonment. Judge Nikolai Dolya sentenced her to five years in jail.
The journalist Denis Ivashin was taken to Hrodna for trial. Judge Valery Romanovsky decided upon 13 years and one month for treason against the state. The trial was closed. Nobody could hear the prosecutor's accusatory speech. However, Ludmila Ivashina, Denis' mother, got permission to see her son after the verdict, came out absolutely shocked: Denis said the prosecutor demanded nine years of imprisonment. The judge didn't add a year, like Karsiuk and Dolya but simply increased the term one and a half times. Different judges, different fates, different cities, different articles. The trend is common: the sentences are longer than those requested.
Earlier (while the verdicts in political cases were always passed not by judges and not in courts at all), the regime still created a smokescreen and staged professional court shows. The prosecutor accused, the lawyer defended, the judge would say, with a profound look, that he was leaving for a meeting and call a recess, as if he needed time to analyze the arguments of the prosecution and the defense and to make a decision. The prosecutor demanded five years, the lawyer asked for acquittal, the judge gave four years - that was about the formula that worked. I remember when the judges started passing sentences in strict accordance with the requirements of the prosecution, the Belarusians were outraged: how is it that they don't pay any attention to the defence? One is jailed for as long as the prosecutor says, how can it be? People didn't know that it turned out to be good news, and not the other way around.
Now the terms have become longer than requested, no one runs the show anymore, and even the judges no longer take the time to pronounce the verdict. When relatives of Alena Lazarchyk came to Mahiliou for the verdict reading, it turned out they got confused and now the court would hear her last word in closed session. But they were told: don't worry, take a little walk here, the verdict will be pronounced in an hour. I suspect the verdict was not "in an hour" but had been printed, signed and stamped the day before.
The absolutely obvious question arises: why do the prosecutors exist in Belarus at all, if their demands are neglected? Hundreds of incomprehensibly busy people who have no function at all now, except for putting on the blue uniform. By the way, tailoring uniforms costs much money. Meanwhile, the salaries, bonuses, 13 allowances, quarterly payments, sick leave, vacations - all this money is spent on the upkeep of hundreds of people, who can be replaced by the only secretary who calls the courts and dictates the telegrams with verdicts. The mismanagement is obvious.
I propose to abolish the Prosecutor's Office. It is no longer needed even for court rulings. Nobody would pay the salaries, for example, a theater curtain, a vending machine, or a robot vacuum cleaner. But no, they are still useful, so the comparison is not right.
In fact, maybe it's for the best. Because it is always easier to fight evil when it is pure, unadulterated and sparkling in all its facets. And when it is dressed up in uniform or mantle, decked out with trimmings, many people simply fail to distinguish it behind all this tinsel. And they think: one may not recognize Avtukhovich as a political prisoner. He should. And Carthage, accordingly, must be destroyed.
Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org