‘We won’t forget!’ Minsk court dismisses appeals against jail sentences over inscription in memory of killed protester

In December, hefty verdicts were announced in Frunzenski district court of Minsk: the Belarusian authorities label the five defendants as ‘hooligans’ due to the fact than they paid tribute to Alyaksandr Taraykouski who was the first Belarusian to have fallen victim during the post-election protests.

In early September, the Minskers made the inscription “We will not not forget!” on the paving flagstones not far from Taraykouski’s death site in the vicinity of Pushkinskaya metro station. The absurdity of the situation might be obvious, but criminal case was opened against them. The five persons were charged with ‘gang hooliganism’ and ‘intentional damaging property’.

Dzyanis Hrakhanau and Ihar Samusenka were sentenced to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty in an open-type correctional facility, Maryia Babovich – to 1.5 years of restriction of liberty without having to stay in such institution; Maksim Pavlyushchyk – to two years of imprisonment in a minimum security penal colony, and Uladislau Hulis – to two years in a maximum security penal colony.

Such sentences were handed down by Yuliya Krepskaya and Yuliya Bliznyuk. The public prosecution was represented by notorious prosecutor assistant Alina Kasyanchyk who took part of the trial of Belsat journalists Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova.

On March 5, Minsk City Court considered five appeals against the sentences lodged by five convicts in the ‘inscription’ case. The panels chaired by judges Tatsyana Falkouskaya and Valyantsina Zyankevich dismissed all the appeals and upheld the verdicts.

Protests-linked murder in Brest: Dead man found guilty, witness gets 10 years in jail, shooter declared victim

Alyaksandr Taraykouski, a 34-year-old resident of Minsk, died during the crackdown on protesters at Pushkinskaya metro station on August, 10. His death was confirmed by the authorities, but many people doubt the official version. According to the Interior Ministry, the man was about to throw an improvised explosive device at the security officers, but it exploded in his hand.

In mid August, the Associated Press news agency published a video of Taraykouski’s death. The video shows flashes from law enforcement shots and a man in shorts and a T-shirt with a large bloody stain on his chest. He holds on to the wound with his hand and then falls to the ground. The video clearly shows no explosives in the protester’s hands. Alyaksandr Taraykouski’s wife identified him in this footage.

In the leaked audio recording published in mid January, a man whose voice bears a strong resemblance to the voice of Deputy Interior Minister Mikalai Karpyankou, mentions Alyaksandr Taraykouski, calling him a ‘drunkard and moron’ who was ‘snuffed out by a rubber bullet that flew into his chest’.

In February, the Belarusian authorities said that no open criminal case would be opened against officers who killed Taraykouski. There are other deaths linked to post-election protests (Henadz Shutau, Mikita Kryutsou, Alyaksandr Vikhor, Kanstantsin Shyshmakou, Artsyom Parukou, Raman Bandarenka).

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