Belarus authorities put on par paying off protesters’ fines and ‘financing mass riots’

The Belarusian Investigative Committee continues probing into the criminal case on ‘mass riots’ in Minsk. Special attention is being paid to the financial issue, Syarhei Pasko, the head of the Minsk department of the BIC, says.

According to him, the investigators esteblished facts of financing ‘illegal mass events’, including paying off fines imposed on defendants in numerous administrative cases. Syarhei Pasko announced ‘recovering money penalties directly from the offenders

“As a result [of the foundations’ giving a helping hand], the persons subject to an administrative penalty in the form of a fine accept no responsibility. It should be noted that the principle of individual responsibility provided by administrative law means that one brought to justice must pay the penalty themselves. Otherwise, the importance of the personal responsibility is completely leveled off,” he told state-run news agency BelTA.

Criminal case opened against co-founder of initiative helping persecuted protesters

In the wake of the 2020 presidential vote and amid post-election protests, a number of foundations, including BY_Help and BYSOL, started collecting donations for the Belarusians who were detained and battered by security forces and then fined and arrested by Belarusian courts.

In November, Alyaksei Lyavonchyk, one of the founders of BY_Help foundation, was accused of ‘destabilising the situation in Belarus’. At the same time, the Belarusian authorities started to massively block the accounts of people getting financial assistance from the BY_Help and seize money from them In late December, Lyavonchyk was charged with ‘financing of the activities of an extremist group’ (the one that was set up by the opposition Coordination Council, according to the Belarusian authorities) under Article 361-2 of the Criminal Code.

In mid December, the Belarusian Interior Ministry commented on the arrest of well-known media expert Andrey Alyaksandrau and his girlfriend Iryna Zlobina. They are accused of ‘financing mass riots’ (Art 342 of the Criminal Code). Receiving money from the BY_help, Alyaksandrau and Zlobina paid more than 250 fines, the Interior Ministry said.

Journalist Alyaksandrau and his girlfriend accused of paying fines for protesters