2009 16/09
Leanid Sviecik

Leanid Svietsik

Human rights defender from Vitebsk appealed to the Supreme Court after he was found guilty in the incitement of ethnic and religious hatred on 16 July in the Regional Court.

The Judge of Vitebsk regional court, Ms. Halina Urbanovich, awarded a 31 million BYR fine (about 12 thousand dollars) to Leanid Svetsik. Court stated that human rights activist allegedly relates to the writing and distributing letters on behalf of a radical nationalist organization “Russian National Unity”.

According to the verdict, Leanid Svetsik should also pay 1 million BYR compensation for moral losses for the chairman of the Vitebsk branch of the Writers Union of Belarus, Ms. Tamara Krasnova-Husachenka, as well as the court costs and the cost of expertise.

The experts were to determine whether Mr. Svetsik is the author of the text of the letters which were sent to the local oppositionists, intellectuals, officials and representatives of Jewish communities of the city during 2006-2008. Experts were also to determine whether these letters were prepared with the help of equipment confiscated from Leanid Svetsik for benefit of the state after the trial. According to Leanid Svetsik, experts could not give a clear answer that the letters were written, printed or sent exactly by him.

Appeals to the Supreme Court were sent both by the former defendant and his lawyer Paval Sapelka. Leanid Svetsik said that in his complaint he drew the attention of the Supreme Court for the breach of procedural law during the trial.

However, the panel on criminal cases of the Supreme Court left the verdict unchanged.

According to the Judge’s decision, a human rights activist must pay as a whole about 34 million BYR. According to the official documents this sum of money is the approximate price of the two-bedroom apartment where he lives with his wife and two minor children. Leanid Svetsik can not sell an apartment and leave him family literally on the street, he does not own other property. Nevertheless during the month after he receives a letter from the Supreme Court, the question about the payment of money will arise. If a fine is not paid, Leanid Svetsik threatened with the deprivation of liberty.

According to Radio “Svaboda”
Ales Leta,

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