Man put in prison for “toys protest” in Belarus
22 Feb 12

A man in Belarus has been sentenced to 10 days in prison for placing children’s toys on the street. Former political prisoner Pavel Vinogradov put soft toys on a curb with tiny banners to protest against police brutality in the country known as Europe’s last dictatorship. He was arrested by the police who claimed he had organised an “unauthorised protest”. This bizarre case comes after the country’s dictator Alexander Lukashenko banned clapping in public last year to prevent silent protests against his hardline rule.

Lukashenko’s behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. He paid for mercenaries to help Colonel Gadaffi in Libya, has praised Adolf Hitler — whose occupation of Belarus killed as many as one in three Belarusians during World War II — and on top of the 10 homes he already owns is building his own flying club, water sports centre and diving centre.

By Mike Harris

Mike Harris is head of advocacy at Index on Censorship