Zmiter Dashkevich sentenced to one and a half years
On 1 November the Oktyabrsky district court in Minsk sentenced leader of the “Youth Front” Zmiter Dashkevich to one and a half years in a medium security penal colony. The sentence was handed down at the end of a trial held behind closed doors by the deputy chair of the court Alla Bulosh. The harsh sentence evoked outrage. More than three hundred people stood outside the court chanting “Freedom for Dashkevich!”
The trial of leader of the “Youth Front” began on Monday 30 October and only lasted two days since the majority of witnesses did not appear. Dashkevich was charged under Article 193 of the Criminal Code with the leadership and active participation in an unregistered organization. He had been held for more than a month in a remand prison. The maximum sentence under the given Article was two years deprivation of liberty.
It was this same Article that was used to try activists of the civil initiative on monitoring the elections “Partnerstvo”. Timofei Dranchuk and Nikolai Astreiko were sentenced to one and two years deprivation of liberty respectively.
The Article on participation in an unregistered organization was added to the Criminal Code just before the presidential elections in Belarus. According to observers it is designed purely to put pressure on civic and human rights activists.