Woman gets three years of restriction of liberty for insultive comment about riot police on web

On October 7, Frunzenski district court of Minsk passed a guilty verdict in the case of Svyatlana Baranouskaya who was accused of insulting female officers belonging to the notorious riot police OMON.

Svyatlana Baranouskaya. Photo: HRC Viasna

On March 1, the woman left a comment under a picture of nine riot police officers posted on the Telegram channel ‘Punishers of Belarus’; she wrote: “They are sc*ms”. As a result, criminal case was initiated against her under Article 369 of the Criminal Code (‘insulting a representative of state authorities in connection with their performance of official duties’). The officers Aksana Krauchanka, Alena Shkulyova, Hanna Shakhava, Katsyaryna Yakushava, Anastasiya Ivanova, Hanna Mitsko, Yauheniya Lysak, Katsyaryna Machkarova, Yuliya Drozd who were pictured in the photo were recognised as the injured party in the trial.

According to prosecutor Dzmitry Khavauka, as the comment contained a negative assessment of the victims, had a non-normative form of speech, its author aimed a blow at the authorities’ prestige.

In court, Svyatlana Baranouskaya admitted her guilt, saying that she was writing the ill-fated comment in the emotion of the moment.

Judge Yuliya Krepskaya sent Svyatlana Baranouskaya to three years of restriction of liberty without being sent to a correctional facility; the woman’s phone was confiscated as ‘a means of committing a crime’. In addition, the defendant will have to pay off ‘emotional distress’ damages to Lysak, Drozd, Shakhava, Shkulyova, Krauchanka, Mitsko (500 Belarusian rubles each), and to Machkarova, Yakushava, Ivanova (1,000 rubles each).

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