Updated at 13:33,29-11-2021

Why is violence against President punished harder?

Zmicier Lukashuk, Euroradio

Russia's Criminal Code doesn't specify anti-presidential crimes, while in Ukraine attempt at state leader's life may be punished with life-time imprisonment.

The youngster who pulled the Navapolatsk ticket collector by the hair faces up to 5 years in jail. If he dared to act like this with regard to the state leader, he would get 8 years.

The Criminal Code gives a clear specification "the same actions committed against a President". We are talking about the "violence, or threat to use violence, with regard to an official performing their duties". It looks like official duties of a President are much more official that the ones of any other official in the country!

What about our neighbours? The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not specify punishment for anti-presidential crimes. The word "President" is mentioned just once in the Criminal Code of Ukraine - among the other top officials of the country, in the article "Attempt at a life of a civil or state activist". This is considered to be a crime against "the basis of Ukraine's national security" and is punished with up to 15 years of imprisonment, or life-time imprisonment.

Poland has the situation similar to Belarus.

"We also have it - the punishment is stricter if the crime is committed against the President. I dislike it, but that's the way it is: our Constitutional Court claims it meets the Constitution. We cannot do anything here," - says member of Polish Helsinki Committee Danuta Pszevara.

This is not the only article in the Belarusian Criminal Code where the punishment for anti-presidential crimes is prescribed separately. There are also Article 367 "Slander against the President" and Article 368 "Public Insult f the President". The punishment for this is 4 and 2 years in jail correspondingly. A slander against an ordinary citizen threatens with 2 years in jail, or 3 years, if there were media involved. As for the insult of an ordinary official, one cannot be punished with imprisonment for that! It may be 6 months of arrest, or restriction of freedom for the term of up to 3 years.

As for the state leader's murder, it is not considered a murder, but a terrorist act!

In the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, slander or insult against the President have no difference with slander or insult against an ordinary citizen. The same is in Ukraine. Poland follows Belarus' footsteps.

"There is a decree that a President is the top figure in the state and no one should insult him”, — says Vojtek Barodzicz, and recalls like the whole Poland was in search for a homeless person who insulted the President in order to give him 3 months of imprisonment, several years ago.

General-Lieutenant of the police Mechyslau Hryb claims that there was no separation with regard to punishment for crimes against the President and ordinary citizens either in the Criminal Code of the USSR or in the first Criminal Code of the independent Belarus. These amendments were adopted by the MPs of the first convocation.

Mechyslau Hryb: "This is abnormal. A person may be subjected to responsibility for criticizing or insult of the President without the latter's claim - the Public Prosecution will do that. However, if a citizen insults another citizen, it is necessary that the casualty should file a claim. If a President or an official insults a citizen, there is no responsibility for that".

Former MP Volha Abramava calls these "presidential articles" of the Belarusian Criminal Code "the sword of Damocles, hanging above the protest movement in Belarus". She agrees with Hryb that they were introduced in order to intimidate the critics of the authorities. As for the "threat of violence..."

Volha Abramava: "If there is a need for such article (for granting the President's security - Euroradio), then I don't understand what the corresponding security services get their wages for - they are supposed to grant the President's security by at least 99%".

The mentioned articles were born in the "legal services" of the Presidential Administration, Euroradio's interlocutors say. They do not dare to predict whether there will be separation between the President and ordinary citizens in every article of the Criminal Code in the future.