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Ihar Pastnou: By banning pickets authorities push people to Maidan protests 7

11:00, — Politics

Ihar Pastnou: By banning pickets authorities push people to Maidan protests

A physician from Vitebsk failed to challenge the ban on a picket in memory of victims of police brutality.

A court of the Kastrychnitski district ruled on February 4 that the local authorities had forbidden the picket on legal grounds. Ihar Pastnou plans to appeal against the court decision, Viasna human rights centre reports.

Ihar Pastnou's claim was heard in the Kastrychnitski district court on February 4. Judge Alena Papkova began trial 5 minutes before the scheduled time and tried to ban human rights activists and Pastnou's friends from entering the courtroom. The physician thinks it was made on purpose.

I think the judge hopes to hold the trial quietly and quickly, so she began it earlier not waiting for the people who wanted to attend the hearing. She wanted as few people as possible to know about the trial and its outcome. The judge even called a police officer to 'calm down the hooligans'. But human rights activists saw chair of the court Yauheny Burunou. They told him about the schedule and noted that the trial should begin in 2 or 3 minutes. The judge had to adjourn the trial and all entered the courtroom, Ihar Pastnou said.

He asked to replace the judge after the incident, but his request was rejected. Ihar Pastnou filed a motion to summon to the court the local officials, who had banned the picket. The judge read a letter saying that local officials didn't have time to attend the trial.

I explained to the judge what claims I have. Banning the picket is not a formality. It denigrates my honour and dignity. I just wanted to organise a picket in memory of victims of police brutality, but I had to hold it in a forest, not Mazuryn Park, the official place for mass events. I said I want 3,000 euros of compensation for moral damage. The judge found the arguments unconvincing. The trial lasted for 30 minutes. The judge read the case for 10 minutes. My explanations took 20 minutes. Judge Papkova read her decision after a 2-hour recess. She said the picket had been banned on legal grounds, Pastnou says.

The picket was not allowed because Pastnou didn't have agreements with the emergency service, the police and the utility agency for providing medical aid, protecting and cleaning, the requirement provided for by decision No. 881 of the Vitebsk city executive committee. The requirement seems to be impossible, because the above mentioned services don't want to sign agreements until they see that a mass event is permitted by the authorities. Ihar Pastnou says the requirements have no sense in his case:

I wasn't going to leave rubbish after my picket. It was to be a one-man picket. I am a physician. Why do they think I need medical aid? No one signs agreements with the emergency service. People just call an ambulance if they need it. As for the police, I invited all police officers, because the problem of police brutality is very acute. The police senior officers should agree with my demand 'Let's free the police from those prone to violence and sadism'. Ignoring such important problems and banning pickets are not just violations of civil rights. The authorities induce people to Maidan protests and unsanctioned actions, he said.

Human rights defender Piotr Ivanou helped Ihar Pastnou to prepare the claim. They plan to appeal against the court decision to the Vitebsk regional court. Participants of the incident left three complains in the court's book of complaints over Papkova's attempt not to allow people to attend the public trial.

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