On May, 4 opposition activist Maksim Viniarski was released from the detention centre on Akrestsina Street in Minsk after serving a 12-day jail term. He refused food and water for nine days in the jail to protest his detention.
The member of an opposition group called European Belarus lost much weight during the fast but said upon his release that he felt well.
More than 10 people, including the activist’s friends and associates, and human rights defenders met him at the entrance to the detention centre. Several plainclothesmen were seen near the site, keeping a close eye on the crowd.
For the first time – ‘dry’ hunger strike
Mr Viniarski acknowledged that refusing food and water for so many days was a tough challenge. When he entered the sixth day of his protest an ambulance was called at his request but he was not hospitalized. “There is no emergency,” the health workers said.
‘People are kept there for no reason at all’
The detention centre’s chief visited Mr Viniarski and told guards afterward, “If he wants to turn his toes in the cell, let him do it!” Then the ward ordered to bring a drop bottle to the cell, but his instruction was not fulfilled. According to the activist, the detention centre is full of people, and most are kept there ‘for no reason at all’.
Mr Viniarski said that he would speak to his family before deciding whether to leave Minsk for the duration of the May 9-25 Ice Hockey World Championship amid fears that he may be jailed again to prevent him from staging demonstrations during the event. “I’m going to stay in Minsk so far, they will not manage to intimidate me with jail sentences,” he said.
Detained due to his ‘resemblance to a wanted person’
On April 22, Judge Lyudmila Lapo of Frunzenski District Court in Minsk found Maksim Viniarski guilty of disobeying police officers and sentenced him to 12 days in jail, the latest in a string of jail sentences handed down to the activist in the past few months.
Mr Viniarski was arrested by police near the Karona shopping centre in Minsk earlier that day on the grounds that he ‘resembled a wanted person.’ Upon arrival at a police station, he was charged with disobedience to police officers. After the trial, an ambulance was called to the courthouse when Mr Viniarski complained that he was ill with tonsillitis and felt unwell. Although arriving doctors concluded that the man needed hospital treatment, police officers said that he would have to go to the jail.
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