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Belarus

Image: New political prisoner in Belarus: Viachaslau Kasinerau  
Copyright: Julia Darashkevich

New political prisoner in Belarus: Viachaslau Kasinerau

Human rights community of Belarus issued a joint statement recognizing persecution of Viachaslau Kasinerau (pictured) as politically motivated and demanding his immediate release.

Friday, 07 April 2017, by Belarusian HRH

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights organizations

On 28 March 2017, it was reported that activist Viachaslau Kasinerau, who was then serving a 15-day administrative detention for his participation in a demonstration on February 17 in Minsk, was charged with a crime under Part 1, Article 339 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism). The accused was taken into custody and transferred to the Interior Ministry’s detention center in Minsk, where he is held to this day.

The ground for the prosecution of Kasinerau was action performance staged by him on 12 March outside the Interior Ministry’s headquarters in Minsk. Viachaslau threw a noose on the statue of a Russian Empire policeman, which was recently installed by order of the Minister of Internal Affairs to celebrate the centennial of the Belarusian police in February 2017. By doing this, the activist expressed his public protest against police brutality and persecution of anarchist activists for their involvement in peaceful protests.

In this regard, we, representatives of human rights organizations in Belarus, note the following:

Viachaslau Kasinerau’s actions obviously do not constitute criminal hooliganism; they do not contain a public threat, which is a prerequisite to the crime (See Expert analysis of the prosecution of Viachaslau Kasinerau). Those actions do not involve the use of violence or threat of violence, destruction or damage to property; they are not characterized by a particular cynicism, lack a vandalistic motive, and are in essence an expression of opinion, which includes freedom, inter alia, to impart information and ideas, including in the form of art, or other tools of their choice. Although this right is not absolute, its limitation in this case is clearly disproportionate, as it is not based on the universally recognized principles of restrictions on freedom of expression, and threatens the very exercise of this right.

In such circumstances, the classification of acts committed by V.Kasinerau as intentionally committed hooliganism, as well as his pre-trial detention and possible further restriction of freedom are excessive and aimed at isolating V.Kasinerau. This criminal prosecution, like the previous one, in August 2015, is based on the activist’s involvement in the anarchist movement, and is also retaliation by the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the prosecution of V.Kasinerau is politically motivated.

In connection with the deprivation of liberty on such grounds, we believe that Viachaslau Kasinerau is a political prisoner and urge Belarusian authorities to terminate criminal charges and to immediately release him.

Human Rights Center "Viasna"

Belarusian Helsinki Committee

Belarusian Association of Journalists

Center for Legal Transformation

Committee to Protect the Repressed "Solidarity"

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House

Belarusian Documentation Center

Belarusian PEN-Centre

Legal Initiative

Belarusian HRH

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