2009 14/11

The General Prosecutor’s Office found the activities of Santa Clauses on New Year’s Eve illegal.

The group of Santa Clauses will be brought to responsibility if it will be established that they take systematic part in an unregistered organization, says the letter of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Bear in mind that on 15 October 15 Belarusian human rights activists dressed as Santa Clauses and Snow Ladies came to the Generals Prosecutor’s Office and handed in a petition where it was stated that all of them were members of the unregistered association of Santa Clauses. ‘We have been carrying out the following activities: organizing New Year’s Eve parties in deferent towns of Belarus, handing out gifts (including among the minors), making speeches at meetings and in the press with congratulations,’ reads the petition.

According to participants of the action, they have learnt that activity on behalf of unregistered public organization is forbidden in Belarus and Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code envisages criminal punishment for it. ‘In this respect, we decided to confess we belong to the unregistered association of Santa Clauses. We ask to give a legal evaluation of our activities’,’ the authors write.

In its answer the Office of the Prosecutor’s General reminded that activities on behalf of unregistered non-governmental organizations is banned in Belarus. ‘In the case of receiving precise information about systematic and organized participation of people in illegal activity of an unregistered non-governmental organization’, the question of bringing them to responsibility may be considered.

17 people have been convicted in Belarus during the four last years under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (illegal activities on behalf of an association, religious organization or foundation or taking part in this activity). The article still remains in force despite the protests of the international community.
Source: www.spring96.org

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