Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Vitsebsk journalists to stand trial for photo with graffiti


Journalists and activists, who made pictures against the background of graffiti in Vitsebsk, are summoned by police for questioning.

According to law-enforcers, it was an unsanctioned rally, as violators had not obtained approval from city authorities for that, the website of Viasna human rights centre informs.

Vitsebsk journalists are to be fined for making a picture on the background of graffiti. The drawing depicts three cages, and a bird made of a newspaper breaking free from that cage. Several persons are standing on the picture, they hold cages or paper birds in their hands. Participants of the photo shoot are summoned by the police department of Chyhunachny district of Vitsebsk, administrative reports are drawn up against them.

On November 18 a journalist, Dzmitry Kazakevich received a phone call from the chief of the crime prevention and security police of Chyhunachny district, Alyaksandr Rybakou, who told that the journalist was to visit the police department in order to give explanations about his participation in an unsanctioned rally.

As said by Kazakevich, he really made pictures in a group of friends and acquaintances, but it was a photo session, and not a rally. What a connection could be between making pictures and an unsanctioned rally? For example, weddings, visitors of Vitsebsk on an excursion make pictures in the city. Then these pictures are posted on the Facebook as well. So does it mean all of them are offenders as well? Kazakevich said. The policeman believes that a group photo of several persons standing against the background of graffiti posted on a Facebook account, are a proof of holding a mass rally. He says that later those pictures emerged on websites, so it was not our personal affair, but an unsanctioned rally.

Kazakevich stressed that he had not sent the pictures to other websites, had not taken part in any rallies, he simply made a picture. So permission should be received to make a picture for social networks, shouldnt it? It is clear from the pictures we are not holding posters, crying or demanding anything, Kazakevich said. Even in the print-outs from websites, showed by the policeman to me, the word rally is not mentioned. So I find these accusations groundless.

Nevertheless, a report for committing a violation on charges relating Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (participation in an unsanctioned rally) has been drawn up against Kazakevich. At the police department he was told that the trial is scheduled for November 28.

The case of another journalist, Kanstantsin Mardzvintsau, is to be tried on December 1.

I talked to the same policeman, Alyaksandr Rybakou, Mardzmintsau said. He is sure that in some way I expressed my opinion as a citizen, by making a picture near the graffiti with birds. I do not know why he is so sure. I asked whether the police have claims against the artist, who had painted that. Rybakou noted that it had happened long before.

As said by Mardzvintsau, he refused to answer further questions of the policemen, and he wrote in the report that he disagree with the version of the policeman, who considers him an offender.

In addition, a coordinator of the committee for creation of the party The Belarusian Christian Democracy Tatsyana Sevyarynets, and an activist of the organizing committee Alena Shabunya have been summoned by police. They also believe that posting personal photos on social networks could not be considered a proof of their participation in any rally.

Vitsebsk journalists to stand trial for photo with graffiti

Photo: Facebook