Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Statkevich sentenced to six years in prison, Uss to 5 1/2 years

A district judge in Minsk on May 26 sentenced former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich to six years in a medium-security correctional institution and another former presidential candidate, Dzmitry Uss (Vus), to five years and six months in a medium-security correctional institution.

Judge Lyudmila Hrachova of the Leninski District Court found Messrs. Statkevich and Uss guilty of organizing "mass disorder" in connection with their participation in a post-election protest staged in Minsk on the night of December 19, 2010.

The 54-year-old Statkevich has been held in the detention center of the Committee for State Security (KGB) since he was arrested immediately after riot police violently removed peaceful protesters from Independence Square. Mr. Uss was also arrested shortly after the demonstration, but he was freed the following day day.

Messrs. Statkevich and Uss were on trial along with five men who were alleged to be the most active participants of the December 19 mass disorder.

Of them, Alyaksandr Klaskowski was sentenced to five years in a medium-security correctional institution; Artsyom Hrybkow to four years in a medium-security correctional institution and compulsory treatment for alcohol addiction; Alyaksandr Kvyatkevich to three years and six months in a medium-security correctional institution; Dzmitry Bulanaw to three years in a medium-security correctional institution; and Andrey Paznyak to a two-year "restricted freedom" term without his being sent to a correctional institution.

On May 18, the public prosecutor in the trial, Kiryl Chubkavets, demanded that Messrs. Statkevich and Uss be sentenced to eight and seven years, respectively, in a medium-security correctional institution.

The prosecutor suggested that Mr. Klaskowski be sentenced to eight and a half years in prison, and Messrs. Kvyatkevich, Bulanaw, Paznyak and Hrybkow to four years in prison.

The judge concluded that Messrs. Statkevich and Uss had made preparations for mass disorder and had repeatedly discussed the issue before the December 19 demonstration, that they had led the "disorderly rabble" walking along Independence Avenue, that Mr. Uss had gathered information about the strength and location of riot police and reported it to Mr. Statkevich, and that the December 19 protest was characterized by mass disorder, violence, acts of wanton destruction, damage to property and armed resistance to representatives of the authorities.

The 40-year-old Uss, the only one of the accused not held in pretrial custody, was arrested in the courtroom immediately after the sentences were pronounced.
After hearing his sentence Mr. Statkevich thanked all his supporters present and shouted, "Zhyve Belarus!" (Long Live Belarus!).