‘Picketing’: Young man gets 10 days in jail for having white-red-white strips on backpack

In mid January, Ilya Dabradzey, a student of Pinsk teacher training college, was detained in Savetski district court of Minsk, the human rights centre Viasna reports.

The young man came to Minsk to be present at the trial of the reputed sports journalist Alyaksandr Ivulin who was charged under Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code (‘organisation and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order’) and later sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal colony.

Minsk: Sports journo Alyaksandr Ivulin sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment

On January 17, the officers of Partyzanski district police department drew a protocol upon Illya Dabradzey for ‘unauthorised picketing’. When tried on January 19 in Partyzanski district court of Minsk, Illya pleaded not guilty, stressing that he just had white-red-white strips on his backpack, which was interpreted by the authorities as ‘picketing’.

As a result, judge Natallya Dzyadkova seimposed a 10-day jail term on Illya Dabradzey. Most likely, the defendant has already served the term.

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. In December 2020, 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.

Man gets one year in correctional facility for drawing white-red-white flags on abandoned building