Leader of the Belarusian “Youth Front” sentenced for graffiti
One of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition movement “Youth Front”, Artur Finkevich, has been sentenced to two years restriction of liberty (the so-called “khimiya” – compulsory work brigades). For writing the graffiti : “We want something new!”, Finkevich was found guilty of infringing an article of the Criminal Code “Malicious hooliganism”. After the sentence was read out, Artur Finkevich stated that he did not agree with the sentence, however he does not think it necessary to appeal given the huge prison sentence he was initially threatened with.
Finkevich has been held since January in a pre-trial detention centre (CIZO) in Minsk. The youth leader was detained by police officers for writing graffiti. He was charged under two articles of the Criminal Code of Belarus - “Malicious hooliganism” and “deliberate destruction or damage to property on a particularly large scale”. Under the latter Finkevich faced a sentence of deprivation of liberty for 7 – 12 years. The opposition figure himself believes that the authorities confined themselves to a sentence of “khimiya” because they simply “got frightened”. “They understand that the situation in Belarus is changing irreversibly”, Finkevich said after the passing of sentence.
Tomorrow in the court of the city of Baranovichi in the Brest region a hearing is scheduled on the case involving another youth leader. Activist of the “Zubr” movement, Nikita Sasim, is charged with evading military service, despite the fact that last autumn he was given a deferral because of a skull injury received when a peaceful action was broken up. Sasim has been held in a pre-trial detention centre in Baranovichi for 2 months and he faces up to 3 years deprivation of liberty.
Still behind bars is also the leader of the Belarusian democratic forces, Aleksandr Milinkevich, sentenced to 15 days administrative arrest for organizing on 26 April the procession “Chernobyl way”. Another ex-presidential candidate, Aleksandr Kozulin, has been in the pre-trial detention centre in the town of Zhodino since 25 March.