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Belarus: President pardons nine convicted for December protests
12 Aug 2011
BY MARTA COOPER

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has pardoned nine of the 41 people convicted for taking part in the December 19 protests that followed his higly disputed re-election. RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reported that the nine freed had requested an amnesty, admitted taking part in the demonstrations, and pledged not to engage in such activities again. Of the nine amnestied, four have been named as Dimitry Drozd, Artem Gribkov, Serguey Kazakov and Andrei Protasenya. Two more who are thought to have been released have been named as Vladimir Loban and Alexander Klafkovsky, while the names of the remaining three remain unknown.

BACKGROUND ON SOME OF THE RELEASED MEN

On 5 May Dmitry Drozd (Дзьмітры Дрозд, Дмитрий Дрозд), 38, was sentenced to 3 years in medium security colony. Drozd has a degree in photo-technique from Minsk Technological College and graduated from the history faculty at Belarus State University in 2005. He worked as a photographer, scientist, and researcher of archives. In 2010 he published The Landowners of Minsk Province 1861-1900, and has been working on a second book about the history of photography and the lives of photographers in 20th century. During the 2010 election campaign Drozd was a member of Andrei Sannikov’s election team. He was detained and arrested for 10 days for participating in the 19 December rally, and arrested for taking part in z protest on 1 February.

Artem Gribkov (Арцём Грыбкоў, Артем Грибков), 22, was sentenced to 4 years in a medium security colony on 26 May. Born in Korelichi, he studied at the Minsk College of Light Industry and worked at the Minsk mall, Hippo, as a loader and hydraulic press operator. It is reported that he is not a member of any political party and has no interest in politics. During the trial Gribkov partly accepted his guilt, saying he had hit the shields of the military police, but did not accept causing any physical damage.

On 12 May Serguey Kazakov (Сяргей Казакоў, Сергей Казаков) was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment in a standard security colony. Kazakov was born 12 February 1992 in Leninogorsk (Russia), before his family moved to Belarus. Kazakov graduated from Minsk secondary school N 85, and since the age of 16 has worked as a loader, a delivery driver, and was an amateur-musician. Kazakov was an activist for the “European Belarus” campaign. On 27 January he was arrested in his work place, his family flat was searched and his computers were confiscated. During his first interrogation, military police officers told him his mobile number was registered on 19 December from the place of the rally, which was used as evidence that he had taken part in the mass disorder. Prosecutors said Kazakov struck military police officers 20 times, but human rights group spring96.org said it was not evident from a video report that he had hit the officers, nor that his activity could be qualified as participating in a riot. During the open trial Kazakov said he didn’t see any officer being beaten, and saw only flags around him. Kazakov didn’t accept his participation in mass riots, instead explaining his actions as hooliganism, spring96 said.

On 5 May Andrei Protasenya (Андрэй Пратасеня, Андрей Протасеня), 30, was sentenced to 3 years in a medium security colony. He graduated from school with honours, studied mathematics at Belarus State University, and worked as a programmer and charity volunteer, raising funds for seriously ill people. He did not have a long record of political activity. In November 2010 he joined the United Civil Party, and worked as volunteer for Yaraslav Ramanchuk, who ran for presidency in the same year. He participated in the political rally on 19 December, but had left before the rally was suppressed by military police. He was arrested on 9 February 2011.

Vladimir Loban (Уладзімер Лобан, Владимир Лобан) was sentenced to 3 years in a standard-security colony on 12 May. Loban was born on 16 January 1978 in Khoiniky Gomel region, a town badly affected by the fallout from the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986. The family was then evacuated to Verhnedvinsk in the Vitebsk region. Loban graduated from Minsk State Technological University worked in Verhnedvinsk before moving to Minsk in March 2010. He was not involved in politics, nor a member of any party or social movement. His sister believed that he went to the rally on 19 December as he was not allowed to vote in Minsk, due to not being officially registered to do so. Loban was arrested on 19 December and accused of participation in the mass riot. During the trial, Loban said he came to the rally to express his personal position as a citizen and didn’t see any disorder.

Alexander Klaskousky (Аляксандр Класкоўскі ,Александр Класковский), 30, was sentenced on 26 May to 5 years in a medium security colony. Alexander is perceived to be one of the heroes of the 19 December rally. A young man in a military uniform, he rose from the crowd and tried to negotiate and even stop the military conscripts and Speznaz (riot police) from supressing the demonstration. Klaskousky, a former military police officer, was born into a family of journalists. His father is the renowned Belarusian opposition journalist and analyst Alexander Klaskousky, who works for the BELAPAN news agency. Klaskousky studied at the journalism faculty at Belarus State University (Journalism Faculty), but left after a year and then started his military service. Klaskousky then began work at the State Road Inspection in Belarus, and in 2005 started work as a long distance truck driver. His sister Volha Klaskouskaya claimed asylum in the EU in 2004, but reportedly returned to Belarus in winter 2011, “to support her brother’s family”. Klaskousky has 3 children, the youngest being 3 years old. It has been reported that since his arrest his family have struggled for money and lost their mortgaged flat. Klaskousky’s father has been unable to support the entire family. During the trial Klaskousky said the individuals in Independence Square were provoked to behave aggressively and that he hit the military shields as well. He admitted that he came to the rally in his military uniform despite the fact he had already finished his conscription. He accepted that he used his uniform illegally. Klaskowsky said after detention he was handcuffed to a radiator and interrogated without a lawyer. He accepted that during the rally he took charge of people on the steps of a government building, but said that video evidence used in court misrepresented the events of that evening.

These biographies are taken from research conducted by Olga Birukova.

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