On Tuesday, judge Svyataslau Kalina sentenced Brest resident Darya Palyakova to two years of restriction of liberty without being sent to a correctional facility, i.e. a kind of home confinement.
The woman was tried under Art. 364 of the Criminal Code (‘violence or violence threat against law enforcement officers’) in Leninski district court of Brest.
“I hoped they would impose a fine on me. As a result, the sentence is a bit more lenient than the prosecutor demanded, but it is not what I expected. Since I raise two minor kids alone, there was hope that I would be just fined. Now I am going to talk to my lawyer and appeal against the ruling,” Palyakova told Belsat TV.
The Belarusian authorities accused her of tearing the sleeve of a policeman’s jacket during a protest rally that took place in the centre of the city on October, 25. Alyaksandr Sakharuk, a member of the independent trade union and Afghan War veteran, was waving a white-red-white flag. When the policemen made an attempt to detain him, several women, including Darya, began fighting the man off. Criminal proceedings were instituted against all of them, but Palyakova’s case was severed. Notably, Mr Sakharuk was still grabbed and sentenced to 13 days of administrative arrest. Although Darya is a single mother of a 5-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, on that day she was also detained and taken to the temporary detention centre.
“What happened to Darya Palyakova is outrageous. The woman touched the policeman’s jacket, it ripped, and the penalty is two years of restriction of liberty. Firstly, the punishment is ill-proportional to the degree of the incident, and secondly, that politically-motivated case was framed-up to intimidate people and discourage them from protesting,” Viasna human rights activist Uladzimir Vyalichkin said.
In accordance with Art. 364, the maximum penalty is six years of imprisonment; the party of charge asked for three years of restriction of liberty for Darya Palyakova.