Alyaksandr Barazenka sentenced to 1 year of restriction of freedom

An activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Alyaksandr Barazenka has been sentenced by court of Tsentralny district of Minsk to 1 year of imprisonment without sending to a correctional facility. The verdict has been passed by Judge Natalya Vajtsekhovich. The political prisoner was released in the court room.

Right after his release Alyaksandr Barazenka said in an interview to the Charter’97 press-centre: “The verdict is unambiguously political. It would be just to declare me not guilty. But it was expected. This verdict completely characterizes the court system of Belarus which is under total control of the regime”.

As we have informed, senior assistant prosecutor of Tsentralny district of Minsk Tsikhavets offers to sentence “European Belarus” campaign activist Alyaksandr Barazenka to restriction of prison for a year and a half.

Alyaksandr Barazenka’s final statement

In his final statement the 20-year-old opposition activist said: “I am in this court to show everybody who hopes for some liberalisation: there is no point in hoping for that”.

“A person who, according to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau, was beating up policemen and was a destabilizator of stability in Belarus, is standing in font of you. Two years ago I was diligently studying and not thinking about finding myself in the dock. But the atmosphere of fear and stupidity has made me to get engaged in social activity. but our regime does not like those who are active. They do not like active and clever, and invests money in degenerates. After that I passed through provocations, detentions, arrests, and finally, this trial,” A. Barazenka said.

Alyaksandr Barazenka met near court

He noted that he is not an ideal and role model himself. “I often behaved as an egoist, and I have things to say sorry for for the rest of my life. For abandoning my associates, my dear ones. If the high court finds me guilty, you can execute me,” A. Barazenka said.

He noted that he came to the investigator out of his free will to take part in investigation activities. He said that nobody summoned him by writs, and he found out about the criminal action brought up against him at one of the forums on the web.

“This process shows naivety of those who hoped for some liberalisation by the regime. 10 persons are still accused in the same case in which I am tried: there is one girl among them, and one minor. Convictions of Syarhei Parsyukevich, Andrei Kim, Alyaksandr Kazulin are not overturned still. I am behind the bars – that’s the way liberalization goes,” A. Barazenka said.

“When I returned to Belarus and came to investigative authorities, I acted according to my conscience. I also ask the high court to be guided by conscience and deliver the only possible not-guilty verdict. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, people are not islands, but a part of a mainland, and evil done to a man returns to the wrongdoer. Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee,” A. Barazenka said in the end.

The people in the court room rose in applause.

How the trial started

Today, unlike yesterday, most of people who wanted to enter, managed to do so. But it still there were “surprises”.

As Radio Svaboda informed, about two dozens of people of strong built were brought to the court building. Yesterday, as we have informed, the court room was packed by students of the Belarusian Agrarian Technical University. The name of the person who organised the students and was in control of their actions has been discovered. He is the chief expert of the Tsentralny district branch of the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, Uladzimir Tsyukhaj. During the trial yesterday we insulted and hit the mother of political prisoner Alyaksandr Barazenka, after she simply asked him why he was occupying the court with students, so that family, human rights activists and diplomats of European countries cannot get there.

Alyaksandr Barazenka’s family filed a complaint to the chairman of the court against illegal actions of policemen who occupied all the free seats in the court room, so that representatives of foreign embassies and of the OCSE, journalists and Alyaksandr Barazenka friends couldn’t be present at the trial.

As a response to the complaint, Judge Natalya Vajtsekhovich asked all those present in the court room, including the unknown with athletic build, to leave the room.

In the beginning of the court session activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, and a former political prisoner Alyaksandr Kazulin, the leader of “For Freedom” movement Alyaksandr Milinkevich managed to enter the court room.

At 11 a.m. the rally of solidarity with the political prisoner Alyaksandr Barazenka started. Activists of the “European Belarus”, “Young Front”, “Young Belarus” unfurled a large streamer “Freedom to Barazenka!” and scan “Freedom to political prisoners!”, “Long live Belarus!”

Today last witnesses were interrogated in the court; video footage watched and written materials considered.

One of the witnesses, Raman Bulychou, director of “Vtoroj den” supplementary liability society, which transports citizens in inner-city shuttle buses, stated in the court today, that on January 10, 2008, on the day of the meeting, his firm sustained no loss in connection with blocking off traffic in central avenue by demonstrators.

Syarhei Hrydzyushka, director of the “MD-Express” limited company, another shuttle buses transportation firm, stated that he does not remember any loss his firm suffered on the day of the meeting. “Independence Avenue is shut off regularly, for instance, when our leader is driven to work, or when foreign guests visit him. It is a standard situation, so our firm hasn’t suffered any losses,” he said.

Witness Ihar Lednik stated to the court that the protest rally on January 10 this year was organized by entrepreneurs and aimed at defence of their rights and legal interests.

After interrogation of witnesses video footage was watched: certain moments from three video cassettes which appear in the case as items in evidence. Besides, written materials of the case awere read.

The lawyer of the activist, Pavel Sapelka, filed a motion on submission of evidence. He applied for documents of the expert examination of the application practice of Article 342 of the Criminal Code’s application held by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, to be accepted as evidence. Judge took recess to for evidence to be submitted.

The activist of the “European Belarus” civil campaign Alyaksandr Barazenka was arrested on October 27 in a building of the Investigative Committee of Preliminary Investigation of the city police department of the Minsk city executive committee, where he had been called in for questioning. The oppositionist is one of the figures of the Process of Fourteen, a criminal case, instigated on article 342 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus against participants of a peaceful rally of entrepreneurs, held in Minsk on January 10, 2008. It is remarkable that he was arrested just after the European Union lifted sanctions against high-ranking Belarusian officials.