Amendments to Criminal Code: prison sentence for online insults

The national legal Internet portal has published changes to the Criminal Code, presented to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The authorities are ready to reform the life of Belarusians. At least its criminal side. The Council of Ministers drafted and submitted to the parliament a draft amendment to the Criminal Code. Some proposals are quite resonant. Thus, it is planned to replace the criminal liability for activities on behalf of an unregistered organization with a fine. It is this article of the code that was actively used, for example, for repressions against activists of the “Young Front”.

However, according to the leader of the organization Zmitser Dashkevich, he is ambivalent to this change, as the ‘Young Front’ has fundamentally ignored this criminal article.

“The regime is guided by logic of destroying any kind of dissent, and not of supporting it. Therefore, the relief comes only now, when it is clear that there is absolutely no sense in this article of the Criminal Code: it cannot be used anyway,” said the leader of the Young Front, Zmitser Dashkevich.

Also in a separate category of state traitors are now the military and officials who, instead of ten, will face up to twenty years of imprisonment. According to military expert Andrei Parotnikau, the Belarusian authorities are trying to learn from other people’s mistakes and rely on the experience of Ukraine, where in 2014 there were cases of mass treason by the siloviki. But since the measure is obsolete, it’s better late than never.

The draft also has changes on mitigating the responsibility for the drug distribution. So far, the prison term for this was 5-8 years, and committed within a group this crime could lead to 8-15 years of imprisonment. Now the minimum punishment is to be reduced to three and six years, respectively. Meanwhile, the proposed changes did not make the relatives of those convicted under drug-related articles too happy.

They believe the change to the upper limit of the term is also necessary.

Another suggestion is to allow investigative activities without the physical presence of witnesses, but with mandatory audio and video recording. Lawyer Pavel Sapelka, however, believes that during a search, audio and video recording can be set up to record only a part of a room, and what happens behind the scenes will remain unknown which could entail violations.

No matter how much reform the intentions of the legislators contain, until everyone is truly equal before the law in our country, changes for the better should not be expected.

See also