Belarusian Professor and Student sentenced to probation
Aleksandr Feduta, a professor at the European Humanities University (EHU), and Anastassia Palazhanka , a EHU student, were sentenced to probation by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk, the EHU reported on 20 May.
Aleksandr Feduta, a EHU lecturer and journalist, was arrested with hundreds of other opposition activists, including 11 EHU students, in the aftermath of the contested Belarusian presidential election on 19 December 2010. Feduta, a political activist, was a member of Vladimir Nekliajev presidential election team. He was charged with Article 293 (mass riot), parts 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code of Republic of Belarus and faced a sentence of 5-15 years. On 20 May, Feduta was sentenced to two years probation by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk. He has been recognized as prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Anastassia Palazhanka, a second year student in political science and European studies, was released on 17 February 2011 after two month in prison. Accused of participating in a mass riot, she was facing a sentence of up to 15 years. On 20 May, the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk sentenced her to one year probation. Earlier this year, Palazhanka was awarded the 2011 International Women of Courage Award by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Of the 11 EHU students arrested during the December 2010 demonstrations, ten of them were sentenced to between 10 and 15 days in prison. Since then, eight students have been released but still face continued intimidation by the authorities.
NEAR is still concerned with the case of Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, sentenced to four years in prison.
Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, a third year student in International Law who also worked as a journalist and spokesman for presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, was arrested with the other student in December 2010. Accused of mass riot accompanied with armed resistance under Article 293, parts 1 and 2 of the Criminal Code of Republic of Belarus, he was sentenced to four years in prison by the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk in March. According to the Human Rights Centre Viasna, the first sittings of the Atroshchankau’s trial, including the hearing of several witnesses, do not demonstrate evidence of his participation in mass riot and in armed resistance against the police. Atroshchankau was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
The European Humanities University (EHU) is the Belarusian University in exile. EHU was founded in Minsk in 1992 and closed by the authorities in 2004. It re-launched its activities in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 2005. It remains the only university in the history of higher education in Belarus to retain full university autonomy despite pressure from the authorities. More information on the EHU is available on their website (en.ehu.lt).
Please send appeals:
1. Respectfully urging the government to immediately dismiss all the charges against Palazhanka, Feduta and Atroshchankau, considering the lack of demonstrated evidence to support the accusations of mass riots and armed resistance.
2. Respectfully urging the government to immediately release Atroshchankau, Feduta, and other remaining political prisoners arrested on 19 December 2010, who were peacefully using their rights to freedom of expression and association.
3. Respectfully reminding Belarus that as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has an obligation to guarantee freedom of expression and assembly, and that anybody prosecuted for the legitimate and peaceful expression of their political views will be considered a prisoner of conscience.
President of the Republic of Belarus
Alyaksandr G. Lukashenka
Karl Marx Str. 38
220016 g. Minsk
Fax: +375 (172) 26 06 10 or +375 (172) 22 38 72
Tel: +375 (172) 22 38 72
Please send copies to:
Belarusian Ambassador to your country of residence
Your country’s official representative in Minsk. Contact details can be found on the website of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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