Nyaklyayew sentenced to 10 days in jail for call for participating in protest

Prominent Belarusian opposition leader Uladzimir Nyaklyayew was sentenced Wednesday to 10 days in jail for a call for participating in an unauthorized demonstration that was staged in Minsk on October 21, which he did not attend.The sentence was handed down by Judge Svyatlana Myatlyonak of the Leninski District Court in Minsk. It was the first time that a person had been found guilty and sentenced to a jail term for merely calling for participation in an unauthorized “mass event,” not for organizing such an event or participating in it.

Mr. Nyaklyayew, a poet-turned-politician who was a candidate in Belarus' presidential election in 2010, was not jailed after the sentence was pronounced and left the courthouse without hindrance.

Mr. Nyaklyayew was charged and sentenced in connection with an interview broadcast on Belsat TV ahead of the October 21 demonstration, called March of Angry Belarusians 2.0, in which the politician, when asked to explain why people should take part in the demonstration, said that the public had to demand the abolition of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's decree that introduced a so-called parasite tax. “If people have the will to defend their rights, they should turn out to defend them,” he said.

Commenting on the court decision, Mr. Nyaklyayew pointed out that it had been ordered from above with a view to nipping in the bud any attempt to protest and having the opportunity to jail him for 10 days at any moment.