29 September 2020, 10:32 | TUT.BY
Two residents of Maladzechna who had participated in a protest rally on 19 June 2020, where one of the riot police had taken out a gun, were convicted and received prison sentences, according to human rights activists. The men were accused of having resisted law enforcement officials while attempting to free one of detained co-protesters.
On 28 September 2020, prosecutor Siarhei Habrukovich petitioned the court to convict Uladzislau Eustsihneyeu and Pavel Piaskou under Part 2 of Art. 363 of the Criminal Code (resistance to a law enforcement official) and give the former 36 months and the latter 39 months in a general regime penal colony.
The judge passed respective sentences on 29 September 2020.
They have not yet come into legal force.
The protest rally in question took place in Maladzechna on 19 June. In its course, protesters attempted to free a young man detained by the law enforcement officials and one of the riot police took out a gun. Photos and videos of this incident went viral.
Both defendants became involved in a criminal case and were initially taken into custody. After the initiation of a criminal case, the 31-year-old Pavel Piaskou also received a fine of 50 penalty units (1,350 Belarusian rubles, ~515 USD) for participating in the 19 June rally on. For the identical offense, the 25-year-old Uladzislau Eustsihneyeu was sentenced to administrative arrest for 7 days, which he served immediately following a three-day detention. Both men were placed under house arrest pre-trial.
The victims in the case were Viachaslau Yakavenka, a member of riot police under the Minsk Region Executive Committee, and Yauhen Baranau, a riot police unit leader. Both officers refused to file claims against the defendants.
The charge states that as Piaskou was trying to set free a detained protester, he started a fight with one of the riot police officers – Yakavenka. Both fell to the sidewalk and the defendant grabbed the officer by his left arm and shoulder, tugging on his clothes and trying to pull him away from the detainee. Yakavenka, as stated by the prosecution, “damaged the left leg of his uniform in the knee area and suffered bodily injuries in the form of a skin abrasion on the left knee.” Riot police officer Baranau who also participated in the fight injured his knee and elbow as he fell down.
The defendant Piaskou admitted partial guilt, but has not yet testified. In regard to similar charges, the other defendant, Uladzislau Eustsihneyeu, pleaded guilty in full.
To recap, a fight between protesters and riot police took place in Maladzechna city center during the solidarity chain action on 19 June. At some point one of the law enforcement officers was seen with an object similar to a gun in his hand.
“A riot police officer pulled out a gun when the other guy had already started to crawl away, for lack of a better word, from the place where he had been detained… The policeman did not use the weapon, but the protesters moved one meter further away from the police van. Afterwards all riot police, regular police and a man in civilian clothes jumped into a car and drove away,” said photographer Nastassia Utkina who saw the moment when the riot policeman was holding a weapon in his hand.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that the riot police officer was not going to use the gun: presumably, it had fallen out of the holster and the officer picked it up to put it away.