MINSK, March 2 (Itar-Tass) -- The court on Wednesday passed harsh sentence on three participants in an unsanctioned opposition rally held in the Belarussian capital on the evening of December 19, 2010 after the presidential election. Law enforcement bodies qualified the rally as mass rioting.
Under the decision of the court of the Frunze district of Minsk, 30-year old Alexander Otroshchenkov, the press secretary of Andrei Sannikov, the ex-presidential candidate from the opposition, was sentenced to four years of the deprivation of freedom in a colony with a strict regime. Alexander Molchanov, a 22-year old student of a Minsk higher educational establishment, an opposition activist, was sentenced to three years of the deprivation of freedom. Dmitry Novik, 29, a driver employed by an embassy, who has never participated in any party or movement, was sentenced to three years and six months of the deprivation of freedom.
All of them were found guilty of active participation in mass rioting, while Molchanov also of contempt of the state flag. The court also decided they acted in collusion.
Meanwhile Belarussian human rights activists note that both the investigation and the court failed to prove the guilt of any of the defendants of having actively participated in mass rioting. There has been no collusion either. During the hearing Molchanov pleaded guilty, Novik partially guilty while Otroshchenkov pleaded not guilty.
According to Belarussian “Vesna” (Spring) human rights center, 42 persons stand accused under the criminal case of mass rioting, and there are also 12 suspects. The hearings started while the investigation has not yet been concluded. Vasily Parfenkov, an activist in the election headquarters of Vladimir Neklyayev, the ex-presidential candidate from the opposition, was the first to be sentenced on February 17 to four years of the deprivation of freedom in a colony with a strict regime.