2009 16/07

Today, on 16 July, a judge of the Vitebsk regional court, Ms. Halina Urbanovich, pronounced verdict to Leanid Svetsik.

Human rights activist is fined 900 basic units. In addition, the court ordered Mr. Svetsik to compensate moral damage of chairman of the Vitebsk branch of the pro-governmental Belarusian Union of Writers, Ms. Tamara Krasnova-Husachenka. The amount of compensation is 1 million BYR.
Ms. Krasnova-Husachenka filed a civil suit, which stated that “sending the letters from the Russian National Unity (RNU), Mr. Svetsik provided a moral pressure on her. Poet claimed that because of the stress caused by the receipt of letters her ear infection worsened. Therefore, she demanded the human rights defender compensates her 7 million BYR for moral suffering, and medicines.

Mr. Svetsik accused of inciting national and racial hatred under Article 130 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus.

In 2006 and 2007 Mr. Svetsik provided a legal assistance to Vitebsk activists who have received threatening letters from the Vitebsk branch of the Russian neo-Nazi organization, Russian National Unity (RNU). At first, police refused to prosecute, explaining its decision that the RNU is an unregistered organization. Criminal investigation of these RNU’s threats was started only on 20 May 2008. On 23 May 2008 the police conducted a nine-hour search at home of Mr. Svetsik, during which KGB agents confiscated his computer, office equipment and printed materials on human rights theme. The search was conducted according to the decision, in which Mr. Svetsik mentioned as a witness in the case against RNU. After a search Mr. Svetsik was interrogated by KGB agents in the KGB office, where he was informed that he was suspected of “inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred” under Article 130-1 of the Criminal Code. The criminal case against him was suspended in September 2008.

The case was reopened on 31 March 2009. Mr. Svetsik faced new charges. According to Mr. Svetsik, the police did not inform the reasons of reopening his case. He attributes this to the increasing pressure on human rights activists in Belarus.

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