Tsikhanouski’s associates sentenced in Hrodna

On 2 June, a Hrodna Court passed a sentence on three associates of blogger and politician Syarhei Tsikhanouski who had been detained back in May 2020.

“Based on the requirements of reasonableness and fairness”

On May 17, during court hearings, prosecutor Mikita Myslivets asked the court to punish 35-year-old engineer Dzmitry Furmanau with two years in a general regime colony, Yauhen Reznichenka with three and a half years, and Uladzimir Kniha with four years. This was the sentence passed by judge Volha Bekushava on 2 June.

Among the aggravating circumstances for each of the defendants were “committing a crime by a group of people by prior agreement” and “being motivated by political and ideological hatred.”

The court also satisfied the claim for compensation of damages of 229 BYN for the traffic police of Hrodna Regional Executive Committee and the claims of the injured policemen, “based on the requirements of reasonableness and fairness.” The policeman Uladzimir Kazlouski sued Reznichenka for 1,000 rubles, the policeman Dzmitry Rakhunok sued Uladzimir Kniha for 1,000 rubles.

A lot of buses, silent officers, and uniformed policemen outside the court building. Photo: Belsat

Half an hour before the verdict was pronounced, special vehicles were spotted around the court building. All the vehicles had tinted windows. Policemen in uniform were in the courtyard, and people with beards and ripped jeans with video recorders were walking around the building.

The recording was prohibited in the court foyer. Everyone who came to the court was scrupulously searched. Dozens of people came to the reading of the verdict, but not everyone was allowed in.

Electoral picket became a crime

On the evening of 29 May, a picket to collect signatures for the nomination of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a presidential candidate was held on Sovetskaya Square in Hrodna. The head of her headquarters, blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski, came to the picket. At a certain point, two women accosted him: they started asking provocative questions and touching his clothes. Syarhei moved away from them, but they caught up with him. Soon two policemen approached, people tried to shield the blogger from them, forming a crowd. One of the policemen suddenly fell to the ground.

As a result, 15 people were detained by riot police: together with Tsikhanouski the coordinator of Hrodna headquarters Zmitser Furmanau, members Yauhen Reznichenka and Uladzimir Kniha, as well as local residents were imprisoned. Some of the detainees were later released.

Eyewitnesses said it was a provocation, the police said it was an attack on employees: allegedly, a policeman was injured during the scuffle. Among the two injured policemen, only one had a blow to the anterior abdominal wall, but he did not require hospitalization.

After detention, Dzmitry Furmanau had wounds and bruises on his face, arms, and legs caused by at least nine bruises with a hard blunt object. Uladzimir Kniha also had a hematoma and a bruise on his face.

The Internet users quite quickly identified the participant of a possible provocation against Tsikhanouski in social networks. This was Alena Kuzmina, a member of the chat room “Naughty Belarus.” However, she was never summoned as a witness to the trial.

The defendants were accused of active participation in actions that grossly violate the public order (part 1 of article 342 of the Criminal Code). Reznichenka and Kniha were additionally found guilty of violent actions against policemen (Article 364 of the Criminal Code). The victims in the case are four policemen, two of whom claim a total of 10 thousand rubles for moral damages.