Judge of Mahilyow Regional Court upholds fine against election observation activist


A judge of the Mahilyow Regional Court on Thursday upheld a lower court's decision to impose a heavy fine on election observation activist Yury Novikaw for distributing printed material lacking data about the publisher and the printer.

On September 11, Judge Aksana Ratnikava of the Leninski District Court in Mahilyow sentenced Mr. Novikaw, an activist of the Campaign for Fair Elections, to a fine of four million rubels ($475).

Police seized more than a thousand copies of tutorials and notepads for election observers from Mr. Novikaw's car on August 23. He was charged five days later.

During Thursday's court hearing, Mr. Novikaw condemned his arrest and sentence as politically motivated and aimed at disrupting the independent monitoring of the September 18-23 House of Representatives elections in the Mahilyow region.

The printed material cannot be viewed as periodicals that should carry imprint data, he insisted.
Mr. Novikaw described the parliamentary elections in the Mahilyow region as a show, noting that observers representing the Campaign for Fair Elections had filed about 150 complaints about violations of the Electoral Code at their polling stations. Precinct election commissions had to exaggerate the voter turnout because it was less than 50 percent almost everywhere, he said.
After the hearing, Mr. Novikaw said that he would lodge a complaint about his sentence with the UN Human Rights Committee. //BelaPAN