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Belarusian Activist Fined Because Rally Lasted Too Long

Belarusian opposition activist Yaraslau Bernikovich
Belarusian opposition activist Yaraslau Bernikovich
HLYBOKAYE, Belarus -- An opposition activist in eastern Belarus has been fined 700,000 Belarusian rubles (about $230) because, among other things, his approved protest lasted too long, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Hlybokaye city council granted Yaraslau Bernikovich permission to hold a rally on March 19 in support of jailed opposition activists.

But Bernikovich was summoned to appear in court on May 5 after the town's mayor, Aleh Morkhat, claimed he violated the law on mass gatherings.

Bernikovich was found guilty on three separate charges. The first was that some protesters used slogans that were not included in the original application for the gathering.

The second conviction was because activists erected a tent in front of the House of Culture in Hlybokaye, which the authorities said is against the law.

Bernikovich said the activists set up the tent because it was snowing and they needed shelter.

The third charge against Bernikovich was that the protest lasted 10 minutes longer than was scheduled.

Bernikovich said at the trial that Mikhail Charapkouski, an employee of the municipal council's ideology department, and the town administration's lawyer, were at the demonstration the entire time but did not raise any objections to anything.

Bernikovich told RFE/RL on May 5 that the judge did not take any of his statements into account.

Read more in Belarusian here