Navapolatsk Town Court sentenced today local pro-democratic activist Siarhei Malashenka to a fine of 2.5 mln rubles. It was another sentence for an action staged by local activists, who following the example of Hrodna human rights defenders, took pictures with portraits of Ales Bialiatski in their hands. After the photos of Yauhen Parchynski and Siarhei Malashenka were posted online, both were charged with illegal picketing.

Yauhen Parchynski was fined 500,000 rubles on 24 January.

“It is the second time I have been tried for illegal picketing this year. The first fine was in October for trying to hang a banner “Freedom to Political Prisoners!” Then I was fined 300,000, and I am currently appealing the decision. I will appeal today’s verdict, too. Because I do not agree to be tried and fined for taking photos. We did not call anyone anywhere, we did not have any posters or banners. We just were just taking pictures – together with Yauhen Parchynski outside the Town Court, and me at the entrance to the town police department alone. The Court said this was an “unauthorized event,” says Siarhei Malashenka.

The activist says their action was deliberate: they wanted to show solidarity with political prisoner Ales Bialiatski, therefore the photos taken with his portrait. They also expressed solidarity with the Hrodna human rights defenders, who were fined on 5 January for similar photos posted on the Internet.

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