On July 18, the Court of Babruisk completed the trial of Aliaksei Zhalnou, son of a local blogger Aleh Zhalnou.
Judge Yuliya Beraziuk sentenced the 25-year old man to three years in an open penal colony. Aliaksei Zhalnou will also have to pay a fine of 50 million rubles in damages (around $5000). The plaintiff, a road policeman Aliaksandr Butouski, asked to recover from Zhalnou 100 million rubles, and the prosecutor demanded four years in a penal colony as a punishment for the blogger’s son. Aliaksei Zhalnou has ten days to appeal the verdict.
An aggravating factor in the case of Aliaksei Zhalnou could be his previous conviction. The young man said that it was because of this fact in his biography that he was targeted by the traffic police in order to avenge his father. Aliaksei insists on his innocence.
The young man was convicted through an incident on September 4, 2013 when he and his father were detained. According to the conviction, he inflicted brain concussion to a police captain Aliaksandr Butouski (allegedly, he hit him on the head, which the young man denies).
Aliaksei Zhalnou says the whole story was made up by the police to revenge for his father’s online posts about police.
Human rights defenders draw attention to some discrepancies in the testimonies: first the captain told the medics that he had been hit on the head when being outdoors, and then he told it had happened in the building of the traffic police. Also, the captain drove to the medical department by himself which generally is impossible with a brain concussion.
We remind that on September 4, 2013 the blogger and his son reported to the traffic police about improper parking of a police’s car, and consequently were detained. In January 2014 the blogger’s son had a criminal case opened against him under article 364. Meantime, their flat has been several times searched and the blogger fined for insulting the officials. The human rights defenders claim the methods to press on the blogger have been known since the Soviet time – to jail an inconvenient person, it is enough to accuse him of assaulting a police officer.
Aliaksei Zhalnou’s mother, Yauheniya, is also facing criminal charges under the same Article 364, “violence or the threat of violence against employees of the Interior”.