Nikita Sasim jailed in Belarus for three months


Over the last two years Nikita Sasim has been imprisoned on several occasions for taking part in unsanctioned political protest actions. This time a criminal case was initiated against him in autumn of last year on a charge of avoiding military service.

Around fifty people came today to the building of the Baranovichi Court to support the youth activist. Nikita Sasim denied the charge against him, showing that he had had a deferment. The point is that on 16 October during a protest action on October Square in Minsk, Sasim was beaten up by members of a special unit of the police force and received injuries to the head and kidneys. He was treated in hospital for these injuries and no final decision was made as to whether he was fit for conscript military service.

In the courtroom today, Nikita Sasim admitted that on one occasion he had indeed, without any valid reason, not come to the military enlistment office, this being in February 2006. However the head of recruitment of the Baranovichi military enlistment office, Shostak, insisted that Nikita had not appeared back on 20 October 2005. Nonetheless after testimony was given by employees of the military enlistment office, Shostak acknowledged that Sasim had in fact been there that day.

This, however, did not stop the Prosecutor, Svetlana Pasenko, from demanding that the youth leader be sentenced to 6 months custodial arrest.

It should be remembered that Nikita Sasim is credited with the slogan about the so-called “denim revolution” which Belarusian young people were hoping for before the presidential elections. In the past Nikita headed a cell of the pro-presidential Belarusian Republican Union of Young People in the Baranovichi College of Light Industry. At the beginning of 2004 at a political rally he called on those present to move to the opposition movement “Zubr”.  The majority of those present supported him. The Minsk leadership of the Belarusian Republican Union turned up to try to muffle the scandal. The decision of the gathering was declared illegitimate, Sasim was expelled from the Union, and a little later from the college.

As Aleksandr Atroshchenkov, Press Secretary of  “Zubr” notes, after this incident, many others followed Nikita’s example, and “Zubr’s” popularity grew.

Nikita himself has become the symbol of independent youth in Belarus.

“The circumstances of the case and the situation in Belarus leave no doubt that this was a political trial aimed at intimidating young people”, Atroshchenkov stresses.

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