Belarusian court sentences “Partnerstvo” activists


Leonid Yasinovich, Judge of the Tsentralny District Court in Minsk passed sentence today, 4 August, on 4 activists of the civic initiative group for providing observers at the elections “Partnerstvo” [“Partnership”]

Nikolai Astreiko, leader of the civic initiative for monitoring the elections, was sentenced to two years in an ordinary regime penal colony, Timofei Dranchuk to one year, while Enira Bronitskaya and Aleksandr Shalaiko were each sentenced to 6 months imprisonment.  This was how the authorities dealt with public activists who were planning to organize an independent network of observers to monitor the presidential elections. A month after the arrest of the “Partnerstvo” activists, in March 2006, Lukashenka’s regime rigged the outcome of the elections, this being backed up by the reports of  reputable international organizations.
As we have reported earlier, the four were arrested in the run-up to the presidential elections, on 21 February 21, and have been in custody ever since. They were charged with organizing and running a structure “encroaching upon the identity, rights and duties of citizens”, and of not having undergone state registration”.

The Prosecutor Andrei Migun had called for the group’s leader, Nikolai Astreiko, to be sentenced to 3 years, and the other three - Timofei Dranchuk, Enira Bronitskaya and Aleksandr Shalaiko to 2 years.

The trial took place behind closed doors with neither journalists, foreign diplomats nor even the relatives of the defendants being admitted.

On 21 August the release is expected (given the period spent remanded in custody) of Enira Bronitskaya and Aleksandr Shalaiko. 

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