Man sentenced for grabbing protesters back from Minsk police facing new trial


Svyataslau Baranovich. Photo by TUT.by

Another case of Svyataslau Baranovych who stood up for young people duting the 2017 protests in Minsk is to be considered today. He was convicted for using force against police officers.

It is highly likely that the hearing will be held in camera in penal colony Nr 1 in the town of Navapolatsk where the man is serving his sentence. The judges are reported to take a decision on changing his confinement conditions to more restrictive custody.

The prison administration has recently imposed nine punishments on the prisoner. According to one of his sisters, Baranovich has spent the past month in an isolation cell. The sister got to know about the trial only due to the fact that Svyataslau Baranovich required the assistance of a defense lawyer a week ago, and the hearing was postponed to October, 12.

Last year, on March 15, Svyataslau Baranovich defended the representatives of the anarchist movement from the plainclothes people who attacked the young men in the trolleybus at the Bangalore Square after the ‘non-parasites’ rally. According to Baranovich, he several times struck the unknown people dressed in black. Although the incident took place in March, Baranovich was detained only in October. Initially, he was prosecuted for hooliganism, but later his case was re-qualified for another article – “violence against an employee of internal affairs agency.”

The prosecution said that Baranovich had knocked down a riot policeman, Artsyom Paulau with several blows. Notably, Paulau was also dressed in black civvies and had no insignia. Although the defendant pleaded guilty and the affected party had no complaints against Baranovich, the judge convicted him of the crime.

Belarusian human rights defenders’ opinions on the case vary. the Human Rights Centre Viasna and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee have already said they will not recognise Baranovich as a political prisoner as the offense committed was of violent nature. However, the participants of the forum Freedom To Political Prisoners said they would definitely consider him as a prisoner of conscience.

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