Music teacher convicted for ‘desecrating national anthem’ on Twitter

Hanna Vazhnik in court. Photo: spring96.org

On June 28, Kastrychnitski district court of Minsk announced a guilty verdict in the case of 26-year-old music teacher Minsker Hanna Vazhnik, human rights centre Viasna reports.

The woman was detained on April 28; a few days later, she was released under her parents’ personal guarantee.

The young woman was charged under Article 370 of the Criminal Code (‘desecration of state symbols’) on the back of her making a post on Twitter. Hanna Vazhnik published a rewritten strophe of the Belarusian national anthem; her version contained the words ‘We, extremists, are peaceful people’ instead of ‘We, Belarusians, are peaceful people’. The ‘offending’ tweet by Hanna apparently referred to the Belarusian authorities’ considering all the critics of the Lukashenka regime as ‘extremists’.

In court, the defendant said she never had an intention to make fun of the anthem. Judge Alena Zhyvitsa took heed of public prosecutor Zavarzin’s demand and sentenced the Minsk resident to one year of restriction of liberty without being sent to a correctional facility.

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