Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Women activists of opposition parties in Homyel appeal chairwoman of regional court to reverse sentence against Uladzimir Katsora

Women activists of opposition parties in Homyel on June 29 appealed to Lyudmila Mikhalkova, chairwoman of the Homyel Regional Court, to reverse a three-day jail sentence that was imposed on Uladzimir Katsora, a local opposition leader.

On June 25, a district judge found Mr. Katsora and four other opposition activists guilty of acting in violation of regulations governing mass events in connection with an unsanctioned demonstration.

Judge Maryna Damnenka of the Tsentralny District Court gave Mr. Katsora a three-day jail sentence, explaining that he had organized the demonstration and had to be punished more severely. The others were fined 350,000 rubels ($124) each.

Mr. Katsora announced in the courtroom that he was going on a hunger strike to protest his sentence and would refuse food and water during those three days.

After being released on Sunday, Mr. Katsora said that he would continue his dry hunger strike until he received a substantive reply to his appeal from the Homyel Regional Court, which he said should reverse the sentence.

As Halina Skarakhod, the initiator of the appeal to the chairwoman of the Homyel Regional Court told BelaPAN, the women noted in their letter that a dry hunger strike "can cause irreversible processes in the human organism and lead to death," and that is why they urged the regional court to reverse the sentence against him "in the name of justice, sense and life."

The demonstration in question, which marked a decade since the disappearance of Yury Zakharanka, a former interior minister turned opposition politician, was staged in Homyel on May 7 in front of the police department where the future minister once served. Participants stood in line near the building, displaying images of the former minister. According to the police charge sheets, the demonstrators did not disturb the public peace and did not enter the roadway.

The demonstrators denied any wrongdoing and referred to the Supreme Court of Belarus, which ruled in 2003 that standing in a line and displaying images should not be viewed as a mass event.