‘What have I been punished for?’ 89-year-old protester gets hefty fine

Valeryia Smirnova. Photo: Belsat

Valeryia Smirnova, 89, and her 67-year-old daughter were detained in Independence Square on December, 14 during the March of Wisdom (aka March of Pensioners). Then the Minsk police thwarted the event and grabbed dozens of seniors.

Minsk: Pensioners’ March dispersed, dozens detained

On Tuesday, her case was considered in Leninski district court of Minsk; earlier, a protocol was drawn upon her under Art. 23.34-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences (violation of rules of holding mass events). She was found guilty of participating in an unauthorised mass event and heavily fined (870 Belarusian rubles).

The hearing lasted 15 minutes. The judge did not even go to separate room before reading out the ruling.

According to the anonymous witness, a police officer who appeared in court via video link, Valeryia was chanting ‘Long live Belarus!’, her granddaughter Darya told TUT.BY. For the first time in her life, the woman has been named as an offender. Valeryia’s reaction to the ruling was very emotional, tears were welling up in her eyes.

“That’s horrible! I survived the war and famine. What have I been punished for?” she wondered.

The senior’s daughter is to appear before court on January, 13.

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