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Belarusian Activist Fined For Organizing Opposition Gathering

People's Assembly organizer Viktar Ivashkevich

People's Assembly organizer Viktar Ivashkevich

MINSK -- A Belarusian activist has been fined 1.4 million rubles ($250) for organizing an opposition gathering in Minsk over the weekend, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Viktar Ivashkevich was fined late on October 13 for his part in organizing the Minsk People's Assembly on October 8.

Judge Kiryl Palulekh found Ivashkevich guilty of violating the law on public gatherings. Ivashkevich faced 15 days in jail or a fine. Ivashkevich brought basic essentials with him to court on the assumption that he would be jailed.

Ivashkevich asked the judge to give him the opportunity to demonstrate his innocence by submitting for the court's scrutiny protocols signed by the initiators and supporters of the gathering.

Ivashkevich said the People's Assembly was held legally, in accordance with the law on holding town hall meetings, which does not require prior permission from local authorities. Judge Palulekh overruled the requests by Ivashkevich and his lawyer, Darya Lipkina.

Ivashkevich has officially expressed his lack of confidence in the judge. It is not clear whether he plans to appeal the verdict.

The Minsk gathering was one of several "People's Assembly" meetings that were held across Belarus that day.

At the meeting, some 500 opposition activists and their supporters gathered in Peoples' Friendship Park, adopting a resolution addressed to the government.

The resolution demanded wage rises; an end to price hikes; the release of all political prisoners; and new, free presidential elections under the supervision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Other meetings were held in cities and towns including Berastse, Mahileu, and Slonim. Several organizers and participants were fined at similar trials this week.

More People's Assembly gatherings are planned for November 12.

Read more in Belarusian here