Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Man In Court For Illegal Picketing With Toy Gnome In His Apartment


Man In Court For Illegal Picketing With Toy Gnome In His Apartment
Photo: S13.ru
Yuri Yarosh from Grodno is accused of unsanctioned picketing with a gnome holding a white-red-white flag in his hands, which was standing in the window of his apartment. The man was subpoenaed after pro-government activist Olga Bondareva took a photo of the toy. Yesterday was the second hearing, however, Yuri and his neighbour-witness got stuck in a traffic jam and didn’t make to it, as a result, the case was referred back for reconsideration.

During the first hearing on 8 February, Olga Bondareva said that she was the organizer of the Anti-Vandal group – people removing and painting over white-red-white-symbols on the city streets.

“The action was coordinated with the ideological department of the city administration. Every time before leaving, we warn the police. It was the same that day. My colleague and I drove around the city, looking for unregistered symbols in order to remove them,” she explained.

At the trial, the accused Yuri Yarosh explained that one day his wife noticed two women taking photos of their window decoration.

“We did not attach much importance to this. Our windows are always decorated with fairy-tale characters, and mothers with children often stop and look at them – we live on the first floor. But these women were without children, it was odd. My wife went out to them and recognized her former classmate. She and Bondareva studied together. They greeted each other, Olga got on her bike and left.”

Soon the police arrived and questioned the owners of the gnome. According to a police report, the man “put a decorative gnome with a white-red-white flag on the window for public display, thereby holding a solitary picket”. Yuri showed a judge a small, several centimeters in size, flag the gnome was holding and explained how it ended up on a windowsill.

Yuri Yarosh together with his wife during the first hearing. Photo: S13.ru

“Among our decorations were Santa Clauses. And they are, as you know, wear white and red clothes. Why it was the gnome that attracted attention is not clear to me. We celebrated the New Year, one of us attached a flag to the gnome. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the gnome always stood by the Christmas tree on the floor, but that day we removed the tree and temporarily put the toy on the windowsill,” said Yarosh.

On Tuesday, 9 February, a neighbor of the accused was to testify in court, however, both the witness and the defendant got stuck in a traffic jam. About 10 people came to support the owner of the gnome, but they were not allowed into the hearing room, as “the trial has already begun.” At that time, there was only one woman inside, in whose presence Judge Valery Shpak announced that the case was referred to DSoIA for reconsideration.