Updated at 10:32,27-07-2021

Opposition politician sentenced to 15 days in jail over election campaign event

Belsat / BelaPAN

A district judge in Minsk on Monday sentenced Anatol Liabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party, to 15 days in jail over an election campaign event that was held in downtown Minsk the previous day by the party’s candidate in the city soviet elections.

Judge Maryna Fiodarava of Savetski District Court sentenced Mr Liabedzka to five days in jail for disorderly conduct and to 10 days in jail for acting in violation of regulations governing 'mass events'.

Mr Liabedzka was among the nine opposition activists arrested by police 15 minutes into the campaign event in front of Kamarouski Rynak, a marketplace in the centre of Minsk, after they displayed images of political prisoners and Aliaksandr Lukashenka`s prominent opponents who had disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1999 and 2000.

After taking the detainees to a police station and drawing up charge sheets, police officers released three of them and took the others, including Mr Liabedzka, to the detention center on Akrestsina Street. On Monday, a judge of Savetski District Court sentenced Uladzimir Ramanouski and Aliaksandr Arastovich to 10 days in jail for allegedly staging an unsanctioned demonstration.

Mr Lyabedzka also stood accused of trying to start a fight with Aliaksei Marozik, second secretary of the pro-government Belarusian National Youth Union, and shouting obscenities at him.

Speaking in the courtroom, Mr Liabedzka denied any wrongdoing, noting that the Minsk City Executive Committee’s permission was not required to hold election campaign events. He pointed out that the city government had been notified of the event in advance.

Mr Liabedzka accused Mr Marozik of trying to disrupt the campaign event and denied attacking him. Several young men, including Mr Marozik, approached the opposition activists and started interfering in their conversations with people and calling on voters through megaphones to go to the polls in the March 18-23 local elections, he said. According to Mr Liabedzka, he eventually asked the group to leave but never used any force against them or shouted anything obscene.