Hrodna: Experienced doctor sentenced to 4 years in penal colony for ‘insulting’ comments on web

Alyaksandr Tsyaleha.
Photo: Viasna

Leninski district court of Hrodna passed a guilty verdict in the case of Alyaksandr Tsyaleha, a neurologist from the Belarusian town of Barysau, the human rights centre Viasna reports.

He was detained on May 3 in his native town, where he was on holiday. Before the detention, the doctor had been working in Russia’s Norilsk. At the moment, Tsyaleha is being held in the pre-trial detention centre of Hrodna prison Nr 1. The Belarusian human rights community recognised him as a political prisoner.

The man was charged with ‘insulting a judge’ (Article 391 of the Criminal Code), ‘insulting a representative of authority’ (Article 369). ‘threat of violence against police’ (Article 364). The arrestee left 32 comments against officials and security officers, including riot police, a judge and the Prosecutor General, on the Internet, the investigators reported.

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In the course of the trial, Alyaksandr said that one of the victims in the case had battered him during the detention:

“By some chance, one of the ‘victims’ resorted to violence when I was being detained. Neglecting my parents’ presence in the apartment, he was beating me while I was lying on the floor and my hands were handcuffed.”

Alyaksandr Tsyaleha admitted guilt under Articles 369 and 391, i.e. insulting officers and officials on the web, but he flatly denied committing any crime related to violence against the police.

According to Alyaksandr, as he was among volunteers who helped people released from the Minsk detention centre on Akrestsin Street, he got carried away due to negative emotions and that is why he left so many insulting comments.

Judge Hanna Leusik took heed of prosecutor Yefimovich’s demand and sentenced the political prisoner to four years in a minimum security penal colony.

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