Dispute about the right to carry out peaceful meetings

An activist of the civil campaign "European Belarus", Victor Kolesnik, is trying to appeal against the ban of the Polotsk City Executive Committee to hold a solidarity rally on 19 February.

The deputy chairman of the Polotsk City Executive Committee has banned a local democratic activist, Viktor Kolesnik, from holding a rally of solidarity with political prisoners who took part in the events in Minsk on 19 December. Kolesnik reckons that his civil rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are being violated by this official.

In the letter of refusal which Kolesnik received was written: “Due to the fact that the peaceful demonstration in Minsk had an unconstitutional character, the protest cannot be allowed by state authorities, which exercise their powers under the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.”

Viktor Kolesnik considers the reason for the refusal to be politically motivated:

“I am fighting in court for the fact that every citizen has the right to express his/her opinion about what is of concern, about what is happening in the country. Under the Constitution, everyone has such a right, but it is necessary (to appeal) in order that it be not violated by our executive committee, nor by the state authorities of the Republic of Belarus generally.”

In the view of Kolesnik, the deputy chairman of the Polotsk City Executive Committee, Natalya Ganebnaya, violated articles 19 and 21 (“International Covenant concerning Civil and Political Rights”) by having forbidden the protest to take place.

Judge Irina Dorodko has begun consideration of the complaint by Viktor Kolesnikov against the Polotsk City Executive Committee, but during a break in the process she became ill, and she was taken away in an ambulance.

Judge Tatyana Subbotinaya has been instructed to continue the investigation.