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Organizers Of People's Assembly In Belarus Face Trial

Iryna Yaskevich has been charged for her role in organizing an assembly
Iryna Yaskevich has been charged for her role in organizing an assembly
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- Two of the organizers of an opposition "People's Assembly" gathering in eastern Belarus earlier this month have been charged with violating laws on holding public gatherings, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
Police in the eastern city of Vitsebsk visited the apartments of Iryna Yaskevich and Tatsyana Sevyarynets and questioned them about their role in organizing the October 8 assembly. Yaskevich moderated the gathering, and Sevyarynets acted as secretary and took notes.
Yaskevich told RFE/RL she protested the police interrogation and protocol. She said the gathering was held as a town hall meeting, which does not require preliminary permission from the city authorities, and so she did not violate any laws or regulations.
"If they bring me to court I will request the presence of representatives of the Vitsebsk Prosecutor's Office and residents of the city's Khmelnitsky Street, because I notified Prosecutor's Office officials one day prior to the gathering that we do not need permission from local authorities to hold a town hall meeting, and all local residents who participated in the assembly were able to share their problems," Yaskevich said.
Sevyarynets told RFE/RL she refused to sign the police protocol.
"I refused either to sign or to explain anything. Why should I explain a simple thing -- the fact that my country's laws allow me to hold town hall meetings freely and without any problems. I also refused to sign the protocol because it would be shameful for me, as a professional language teacher, to sign a document with that number of spelling and grammatical errors. I told the police, well, I am ready to teach you and your colleagues grammar free of charge."
People's Assembly meetings were held in Minsk and across Belarus on October 8. Several organizers and participants have been tried and fined.
The police told Sevyarynets and Yaskevich that they will be notified of the date of their trial.

Read more in Belarusian here