Opposition activist buried in Belarus
The funeral has taken place in the city of Soligorsk (Minsk region) of Yana Polyakova. The 36-year-old human rights activist from the organization “Legal Aid for the Public” committed suicide a few days after her court sentence was passed. On 3 March in the Saligorsk District Court, she was convicted under Article 400 § 2 of the Criminal Code (“making a knowingly false accusation”). She was charged with giving false testimony against a police officer and sentence to 2.5 years restriction of liberty. She had also been ordered to pay the equivalent of 400 USD to the police officer as compensation for moral damages. Yana Polyakova asserted her innocence and maintained that the police officer had beaten her. Her colleagues say that she had often been detained for her opposition activities, and beaten in the police station, and that once they had almost broken her arm. Oleg Volchek, Head of “Legal Aid for the Public” believes that there every justification in initiating a criminal investigation over Yanas death under the Article of the Criminal Code “Driving a person to suicide”. He explained that Yana had tried to have a criminal investigation launched against the police station inspect and two unknown individuals who in September 2008 inflicted blows upon her in the Soligorsk Police Station. However the City Prosecutor refused to do this, and at the beginning of 2008, initiated criminal proceedings against Yana Polyakova herself which ended with her conviction on 3 March. Volchek said that the case was a disgrace. Yana had spoken of not being prepared to go to prison and had talked of suicide.