Minsk resident gets 10 days in jail over ‘protesting’ sticker on car

On November 10, Savetski district court heard the case of Minsk resident Aksana Zybina, the human rights centre Viasna reports.

Мinsk resident Aksana Zybina. Photo: viasnanazirae / Telegram

The 53-year-old woman was detained on November 9, because there was a sticker depicting the historical emblem Pahonya (Pursuit) on the trunk of her car which she usually parks not far from Savetski district police department. On that day a traffic policeman phoned the woman and asked her to come to her car. During the trial, it became known that the detention took place on the back of a complaint from some ‘concerned citizen’ who reported the sticker to the police. She was charged under Article 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences (‘violation of rules of holding mass events’).

In court, Aksana confirmed the sticker’s being on the car, but she never thought it to be any offense. According to her, she placed that Pahonya on the trunk in 2018 on the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Belarusian People’s Republic. The defendant says that she just loves Belarus and its history:

“I did not try to express any socio-political views with the help of the sticker, only love for my Motherland.”

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As a result, judge Syarhei Shatsila sentenced Aksana Zybina to ten days of administrative arrest.

In 1991, the white-red-white flag and the emblem Pahonya were adopted as national symbols of the country. However, they were official until the 1995 referendum, when on the tip from Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is an ardent adherer of the USSR, they were replaced by the Soviet ones. For years, pro-Lukashenka officials have been linking the white-red-white colours to the opposition. Last December, the authorities said that those Belarusian citizens who would hang out ‘unregistered symbols’ even on their windows or balconies might be penalised under administrative law.

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