Updated at 15:24,15-04-2021

Food Not Bombs activist gets 15 days in jail for serving hot meals to homeless in Minsk


A district judge in Minsk on Monday imposed a 15-day jail term on Alyaksandr Kurets, an activist of Food not Bombs, for serving hot meals to homeless people on Saturday.

Judge Volha Pawlowskaya of the Partyzanski District Court found Mr. Kurets guilty of disorderly conduct, reported human rights website www.spring96.org. Police officer Alyaksandr Hardziyenka, who was questioned as a witness, contradicted himself, could not remember what Mr. Kurets had been wearing and where his car had been parked, the report said.

Mr. Kurets as well as four other civil society activists, Uladzimir Luhin, Alyaksandr Zubrytski, Yawhen Zubrytski, and Alena Nyamtsova, were arrested near Mikhaylawski Skver Park not far from downtown Independence Square on Friday morning while they were distributing food among homeless and poor people. The detainees were taken to the Partyzanski district police station. All of them except Mr. Kurets were released without charges after being fingerprinted and having the car searched.

Activists of Food not Bombs have distributed hot meals at three permanent places in Minsk for eight years now. Formerly, police did not interfere, but it has been a frequent occurrence starting February that activists are arrested, taken to police stations and then released without a charge.

The activists link the police pressure to the May 9-25 Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk and authorities’ intention to suppress any initiative that does not come from them.

Food Not Bombs is an international loose-knit group of independent organizations that serve food to those in need. It is also known for anti-war demonstrations and running seminars on poverty issues.

In 2012, scores of people were arrested as a result of a police raid on a concert in Minsk in support of Food Not Bombs.