Minsk: Former political prisoner to be on trial again

Minsk City court will start hearing the trial of anarchist and former political prisoner Zmitser Paliyenka on September 25 at 10:00, svaboda.org reports.

According to the Investigative Committee, on March 13, Zmitser Paliyenka sprayed pepper gas from a can in the face of a man who allegedly reprimanded him for smoking at the entrance to the building. According to Paliyenka’s friends, it was self-defense from a drunk attacker. On March 20, he was brutally detained by the police in his flat. A week later, it became known that he was on a hunger strike behind bars.

He was charged only on April 5 (although he should have been charged within 10 days).

By the moment, five cases have been brought against him:

  • under Article 341 – for making a graffiti in Kurapaty, a Stalin-era mass grave site near Minsk;
  • under Article 369 – for insulting former Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich;
  • under Article 130 – for inciting enmity towards police officers;
  • under Article 339-3 – for hooliganism;
  • and one more – under Art. 341 – for the graffiti ‘Cops Kill People’.

Paliyenka may face up to ten years in a penal colony.

Former political prisoner Paliyenka’s flat damaged after police search

In October 2016, Zmitser Paliyenka was given a suspended sentence of 2 years for allegedly attacking a policeman during the bicycle campaign ‘Critical Mass’, which took place in Minsk. In addition, the activist was charged with committing a crime under Part 2 of Article 343 of the Criminal Code (production and distribution of pornographic materials or items of a pornographic nature).

Last year, Paliyenka was arrested again: on April 7, 2017, the court overturned the deferment and sent the activist to serve the remainder of his term in a prison in Babruysk. There he was regularly placed in a punishment cell, the administration also pressured the activist psychologically.

The international human rights organization Amnesty International recognized Paliyenka a prisoner of conscience; he pleaded not guilty. Belarusian human rights activists demanded the release of the activist calling the sentence ‘politically motivated’.


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