In Belarus four "Partnerstvo" activists who wanted to monitor the elections are facing prison sentences
The trial is continuing in Belarus of four members of the civic initiative group “Partnerstvo” [“Partnership”], Aleksandr Shalaiko, Timofei Dranchuk, Enira Bronitskaya and Nikolai Astreiko. All four were detained on 21 February this year and have been held in custody ever since. They are accused of organizing and running a structure “encroaching upon the identity, rights and duties of citizens”, and of not having undergone state registration. Human rights organizations are unanimous in condemning the trial as politically motivated. The young people were all part of an initiative to provide independent observers for the Belarusian elections.
The trial is taking place behind closed doors. It is believed that other members of “Partnerstvo” whom the prosecution was calling as witnesses did not appear in court when summonsed. Some of them may have been forcibly brought to the hearing.
As well as members of the media from different countries, those refused admission to the court have included the German Ambassador Martin Hecker, the acting US Ambassador Jonathon Moore and representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
On 2 August, the Prosecutor called for Nikolai Astreiko, leader of the civic initiative for monitoring the elections, to be sentenced to three years imprisonment, and Shalaiko, Dranchuk and Bronitskaya to two years.