Thaw canceled: verdicts for Chernobyl Path

On April 29, 2013 Aliaksandr Tarnahurski and Dzmitry Charnyak, activists of European Belarus civil campaign, were sentenced to 10-day jail terms in connection with their participation in the Charnobylski Shlyakh (Path of Chernobyl) demonstration, an officially sanctioned event staged by opposition and environmental groups in Minsk on April 26 to mark the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Ihar Trukhanovich, a young opposition activist who was severely beaten and arrested by plainclothesmen was also sentenced to 10 days in jail.

On the same day Judge Dzmitry Paulyuchenka of Savetski District Court imposed a five-day jail sentence on human rights activist Viachaslau Dashkevich, who had monitored the demonstration.

Henadz Barbarych and Aliaksandr Yarashevich, reporters for Radio Racyja, a Polish-based radio station, were sentenced to three-day jail terms. Judge Kiryl Palulekh of the Savetski District Court in Minsk found the journalists guilty of failing to comply with lawful orders of police officers.

Messrs. Barbarych and Yarashevich said at their trials that they were arrested by three men in civilian clothes who followed them onto a public bus at a stop near the demonstration venue and got off the bus together with them. The men came up to the journalists and ordered them to show their ID, saying they were police officers. According to Messrs. Barbarych and Yarashevich, after they produced their journalist’s cards, the men ordered them to go with them to a police station and they obeyed without resisting. They got into a car that pulled up and were driven to the Savetski district police station.

Police officers Siarhei Revut, Uladzimir Hrablyuk and Aliaksei Karpovich claimed at the hearings that while they while patrolling an area, they spotted two “young men” who behaved suspiciously as they were “looking around” and “exchanging looks with each other.” The officers insisted that after Messrs. Barbarych and Yarashevich were ordered to show their IDs, they attempted to run away and resist their arrest, “sitting down on the ground and swinging their arms.” According to officer Hrablyuk, Mr. Barbarych grasped him “by the sleeves and arms.”

In a statement issued on April 27, Radio Racyja demanded the immediate release of its journalists, stressing that they had performed their professional duties when they were arrested.

Belsat, following BelaPAN