19 May 2024, Sunday, 7:40
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Accomplices

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Accomplices
IRYNA KHALIP

No repressions would be possible without cogs and gears.

A week ago, I wrote that May is now forever the month when Vitold Ashurak died in the colony. Now I will add: and Mikalai Klimovich. Mikalai will be buried today in his hometown of Pinsk. He went home from prison, but not to free Belarus but to the cemetery. It is another "we will not forget, we will not forgive"; one more terrible tragedy; one more reason for everlasting pain. But the key point is not to forget, not to forgive.

Andrei Bychyla, Pinsk district judge, put Mikalai Klimovich in prison. Besides, he tried him twice. On 10 February - in an administrative case for a smile on the social network under a caricature of Vladimir Putin. Then Bychyla fined Klimovich 111 rubles. On 28 February, he was sentenced to a year in prison for the same emoji under Lukashenka's caricature. Does he realize that he has become a murderer? I'm not sure.

But I am sure that he was well aware of Klimovich's health condition. When Mikalai was detained, he got sick in the TDF. The staff called an ambulance and the investigator released him on recognizance bond. The investigator realized, obviously, that if a tragedy happened to a disabled cardiac patient during the investigation, he, the investigator, would become the murderer. After that, let the judge take responsibility and he will be held responsible.

A year ago, Mikalai suffered a stroke and underwent heart surgery. Many Belarusians, who faced disability examination, know what a quest it is at times. They know how medical officials resist. And if you have no problems with your arms and legs, it's very difficult to get it for the general illness. All the more - the second group. The decree of the Ministry of Health points out that the second group of disability is issued for "considerable limited ability to function due to illnesses, defects or traumas resulting in severe social insufficiency". One can only imagine what was written in the medical records of Mikalai Klimovich if he was given the second group of disability. And the judge knew it all. The lawyer spoke about the health condition of the defendant, while Mikalai himself said in court that prison was death for him. Nevertheless, Andrei Bychyla sentenced him to imprisonment. Mikalai was right when he claimed he would not survive. He lived in custody for just two and a half months.

Of course, the verdicts for Statkevich, Babaryka, Tsikhanouski, the rail partisans were not delivered by judges: one had a call and gave a figure. But thousands of Belarusians, who are jailed for likes and reposts, were simply handed over to those very judges. There is a tendency: not to acquit anyone, to convict all. But the specific content of the phrase "convict" is left to the judge's wildest dreams. And it is up to him alone to decide whether the defendant goes home after the verdict or goes to prison for a few years.

Article 368 ("insulting Lukashenka"), under which Mikalai Klimovich was sentenced to imprisonment, offers much room for maneuver: a fine, or home arrest, or correctional labour. The Viasna website has information on 456 trials under this article. So, 60 people were sentenced to "open-type settlement" and 43 were sentenced to "house arrest" (some of them were charged with Article 342 as well). And finally - three fines and one suspended sentence. Not much, dammit, but there were still options. And no one would have sent that judge to prison instead of Klimovich if the fine had been the verdict. But he made his choice. Forever.

Then, of course, Judge Bychyla, just like all the others, will say that it wasn't his idea, that he was ordered, that Lukashenka personally demanded from Kachanava: "Now, Natashka, put me on the line with the Pinsk District Court, I urgently need to roll up one disabled person in the zone". That's what they will all say afterwards. They'll do their best to fantasise, to tell how Tertel hung them from the rack at night to pass sentences, to play cogs and gears hoping there'll be no question about it - he's just a dumb piece of metal. But there will be questions. Because there would be no repressions without them. Lukashenka would not have been able to arrest, fabricate cases, serve indictments, and pass the verdicts by himself, without the cogs. So the death of Mikalai Klimovich is not only Lukashenka's responsibility. Prosecutor Huzarevich, 25, and Judge Bychyla are accomplices. Even the dumbest iron part knows it. Including them.

Iryna Khalip, specially for Charter97.org

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