Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

United Civic Party leader sentenced to fine in absentia for distributing flyers

Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP), has been sentenced in absentia to a fine for distributing flyers on December 19, 2012, the second anniversary of the violent dispersal of a post-election protest.

On January 15, a judge of the Savetski District Court imposed a fine of 300,000 rubels ($35) on Mr. Lyabedzka, finding him guilty of staging an unsanctioned demonstration.

Mr. Lyabedzka was notified of the ruling by mail on Tuesday.

In an interview with BelaPAN , he condemned his trial as absurd, noting that the distribution of any printed material should now be viewed as an offense.

"In addition, I wasn't even invited to my trial and the charge sheet against me was drawn up in my absence," he said.

Mr. Lyabedzka and several other UCP activists handed out the flyers near Kamarowski Rynak, a marketplace in downtown Minsk, to inform the public about politically motivated persecution in Belarus and the behind-the-scenes privatization of large Belarusian companies. "Although none of us were arrested, I was later ordered by fax to present myself at the Savetski district police station," he said. "I then obtained a sickness certificate and faxed it to the police."

Mr. Lyabedzka described the fine as a sign that the authorities were afraid of publicly discussing the privatization issue. "This means that we're on the right track and should go on telling people about shady privatization deals," he said.