French Ambassador: “We are shocked that verdicts are based on calls for rapprochement with European Union”

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Belarus Mireille Musso, who is a representative of the European Union in Belarus, has commented another series of arrests for participation in the rally organized by “European Belarus” members on May 1.

“We express our deep regret in connection with the verdicts to Zmitser Dashkevich, Mikola Statkevich and Artur Finkevich, who had taken part in celebration on May 1. We remind that freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental rights of every citizen of a European country, and call upon the Belarusian authorities to respect these rights in the framework of the commitments undertaken by Belarus, which is a UN and OSCE member. We are especially shocked by the fact that verdicts are based on calls of demonstrators to carry out a closer dialogue with the European Union in all directions,” Mireille Musso stated in an interview to the Young Front press-service.

As we have informed, today the court of Pershamajski district of Minsk has sentenced the leader of the Young Front Zmitser Dashkevich to 7 days of arrest. The trial was based on a report drawn up against Zmitser for participation in a rally “Europe Day” organized by members of the campaign “European Belarus” on May 1, 2008 near the National Library. Earlier the leader of the Belarusian Social Hramada Mikola Statkevich was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for the same rally, while the deputy chairman of the Young Front Artur Finkevich was sentenced to 7 days of arrest.

According to the reports, about 30 persons were arrested during the official meeting. The detained were taken to the police department of Pershamajski district of Minsk. In a few hours most of them were released without a report being drawn up. Reports for violation of articles 23.34 and 17.1 of the Administrative Code (participation in an unsanctioned rally and insubordination to demands of policemen) were drawn up against several persons. Among them are Zmitser Dashkevich, Yauhen Afnagel, Paval Yukhnevich, Artur Finkevich.

“They were shouting slogans about Belarus’ joining the EU, which violated the order of organizing and holding mass evens in the Republic of Belarus,” the reports read.