Sentences to post-election protesters pronounced
On 5 May the October district court in Minsk found guilty four accused of participation in “mass disorder” on 19 December. All were sentenced to 3 to 4 years of imprisonment.
The court handed down tough sentences, as expected. All the accused were found guilty of the participation in “mass disorder” (under Part 2 of Article 294 of the Criminal Code), the charges envisage prison term from 3 to 8 years. Other accused, tried on the same charges earlier, also were sentenced to 3 to 4 years high security prison term. In all these cases, the sentences follow the pattern outlined earlier, i.e. those directly participated in the demonstration are punished the most severely, all of them are active young people of about 30 years old.
Among those recently sentenced to 4 years of prison was the Deputy Head of the Young Front A. Kirkevich, who was not detained during the demonstration on December 19, but much later, on 29 January. Earlier, on 24 March the leader of Malady Front Dashkevich, who was arrested on 18 December before the rally, was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment under Part 3 of Article 339 of the Criminal Code (particularly malicious hooliganism). It is obvious that with their sentences courts aimed at neutralizing the leaders of the well-known and active youth organization.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.