A district judge in Minsk on Wednesday sentenced three young men to several years in prison institution for taking part in a post-election protest in the Belarusian capital city on December 19, 2010.
Alyaksandr Atroshchankaw, 29, who was spokesman for presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw, was sentenced to four years in a high-security correctional institution.
Dzmitry Novik, a 29-year-old activist of a Sannikaw-led group called European Belarus, was sentenced to three years and six months in a high-security correctional institution.
Alyaksandr Malchanaw, 22, was sentenced to three years in a high-security correctional institution.
Judge Tatsyana Charkas of the Frunzenski District Court in Minsk found the three men guilty of participation in a "mass riot" under Part Two of the Criminal Code’s Article 293.
The public prosecutor in the trial, Tatsyana Maladtsova, demanded five-year prison sentences for the accused.
Mr. Atroshchankaw, who was arrested on the morning of December 20, denied his guilt, insisting that he had stayed in the protest venue, Independence Square, as the spokesman for a presidential candidate and a correspondent of Lithuania’s news agency Delfi. He argued that he had not taken part in any disorder and had not kicked the doors of the House of Government.
According to the prosecution, Mr. Atroshchankaw kicked the doors "at least once." In the prosecution’s video footage, he was only seen standing at a distance from the doors.
The video showed Mr. Novik kicking wooden desks that riot police had piled up behind the broken doors to block entrance into the building. His defense lawyer said that he could see only three kicks by his client, but the prosecution alleged that there had been at least 21 kicks.
Mr. Malchanaw was seen in the video breaking glass in a door of the House of Government. He explained that the glass had already been broken and he simply removed pieces of broken glass from the frame to prevent people from being cut.
The prosecution’s video footage also showed Mr. Malchanaw waving a white-red-white flag, standing on the roof of a bucket loader tractor. However, the operator of the tractor testified in the trial that no damage had been caused to the vehicle.
Mr. Malchanaw admitted to having taken down two state flags from the KGB head office on Independence Avenue, but denied that he had trampled them.