Pavel Sevyarynets, a co-founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy and former political prisoner, is the first to have reported about initiating a criminal case against Polatsk activist Henadz Berdzeneu.
According to Sevyarynets, the case is politically motivated as the authorities are trying to neutralize the local leader of entrepreneurs in the run-up of the protest rally on May 1.
“Henadz Berdzeneu is one of the most proactive organizers of mass protests in Polatsk and Navapolatsk. As an influential entrepreneur, he is able to encourage dozens and even hundreds of vendors to take part in protests and marches. He was repeatedly detained when he was leaving for Minsk to participate in big rallies,” the politician told Belsat TV.
In the course of the search, policemen seized Berdzeneu’s tablet to check his activity in social networks. It is his ‘likes’ under posts criticizing president Alyaksandr Lukashenka that gave the ground for opening a criminal case for allegedly insulting the head of state.
According to the Belarusian law, insulting an ‘ordinary’ citizen does not involve severe punishment. But throwing unpleasant remarks at Lukashenka may lead to being sentenced to even a few years of imprisonment.
Hrodna-based journalist Andrzej Poczobut, who was repeatedly tried for the reported libel on Lukashenka in his articles, stresses that all criminal cases under this article end up in the same way in Belarus.
“This is such an article that the result is known in advance. I do not know a single judge in Belarus who would dare to protect a person accused of insulting or defaming Alyaksandr Lukashenka – the game is always one-sided,” says Poczobut.