Minsk: Trial of former political prisoner postponed

The hearing of Zmitser Paliyenka’s case has been deferred to a later date, our correspondent reports.

phot. belsat.eu

The trial was to have started on Wednesday at 10.00 in Minsk City Court. However, today’s session has been postponed ‘due to the judge’s illness’.

At 9:30 am about 30 persons gathered in front of the building, including Belarusian anarchists, activists of the European Belarus civil campaign, the Belarusian Social Democratic Party and representatives of Amnesty International.

Picket in support of Zmitser Paliyenka, phot. belsat.eu

A dozen policemen were keeping watch over the picket. Some of them were filming the participants.

According to the Belarusian 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.

Picket in support of Zmitser Paliyenka, phot. belsat.eu

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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