Belarus – climate of fear: limited freedom for people charged for politically motivated cases

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Belarus : Climate of fear 

Limited freedom for people prosecuted or charged for politically motivated cases

In addition to the 11 detainees identified by international organisations as political prisoners, there is a group of people who have been convicted or prosecuted in politically motivated criminal cases in connection with the 19 December 2010 events and resulting in significant restrictions on their freedom of two forms:

A) Restrictions on freedom without assignment to an open correctional facility (known as domashnyaya khimiya). These individuals must be at home at an appointed time. They are regularly checked by the supervisory agency (the police) and are only allowed to travel to other cities or abroad with the permission of this agency.

Sviataslau Baranovich was sentenced to three years of restrictions on his freedom without assignment to an open correctional facility under a judgment issued by the Maskouski District Court in Minsk on 12 October 2011.
Zmitser Miadzvedz was sentenced to three years of restrictions on his freedom without assignment to an open correctional facility under a judgment issued by the Maskouski District Court in Minsk on 10 March 2011.

B) Postponement or probation – Here, the supervisory agency (the police) sets restrictions on its own. These restrictions may include bans on being outside the house at evening and night hours, attending mass actions, traveling abroad without the agency’s permission, visiting public places (restaurants, concerts, etc.), and so forth. The following individuals, whose judicial judgments are due to be reviewed on 22 July 2013, have been assigned this status:

Siarhei Vazniak, journalist – two years of probation under a judgment issued by the Frunzensky District Court in Minsk on 20 May 2011;
Andrei Dzmitryeu, head of the election campaign for presidential candidate Niakliayeu – two years of probation under a judgment issued by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk on 20 May 2011;
Uladzimir Niakliayeu, presidential candidate in 2010 – two years of probation with postponement for two years under a judgment issued by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk on 20 May 2011;
Vital Rymasheuksi, presidential candidate in 2010 – two years of probation under a judgment issued by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk on 20 May 2011;
Aliaksandr Fiaduta, member of the presidential campaign for presidential candidate Niakliayeu – two years of probation under a judgment issued by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk on 20 May 2011.
And:
Iryna Khalip, journalist, wife of presidential candidate Sannikau – two years of deprivation of freedom with postponement for two years under a judgment issued by the Zavodski District Court in Minsk on 16 May 2011;
Siarhei Martsaleu, head of the presidential campaign for presidential candidate Statkevitch – two years of probation under a judgment issued by the Zavodski District Court in Minsk on 16 May 2011.
Judicial judgments relating to these two individuals will be reviewed on 18 July 2013.

It is important to note that the amnesty law adopted on 10 July 2012 includes a list of articles to which amnesty is not extended. These include Article 342 of the Criminal Code (organization of actions grossly violating public order, or participation in such actions) and Article 367 (defamation of the president). In this way the government was able to artificially exclude people convicted for political reasons from this law’s application.
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Restrictions have also been placed on the journalist Andrzej Poczobut, who was convicted under Article 367(1) of the Criminal Code (defamation of the President). He was sentenced by the Lenin District Court in Hrodna on 5 July 2011 to three years of deprivation of his freedom with postponement for two years. In addition to this, a criminal case was again opened against him under the same article, but the charges for this case was recently dropped.
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Charges against Anton Surapin and Siarhei Basharymau have not been dropped. These persons were detained for, respectively, publishing pictures of a protest by a Swedish advertising company which airdropped teddy bears into Belarus with slogans advertising freedom of speech, and intending to rent the company a room in his flat, under Article 371(3) of the Criminal Code (“collusion of the illegal crossing of state borders of the Republic of Belarus”). Both men currently have the status of accused and have signed written pledges not to leave the city.14

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