Sergey Protsenko, a 40-year-old Ukrainian, lives in Belarus for ten years. He married a woman from Buda-Koshelevo; they have three children, aged two, four and nine years.
In October 2018, the Buda-Koshelevo ROVD (District Interior Division) decided to expel Sergey from Belarus for three years for an administrative offense: he was detained drunk in the street by militiamen, and this was found as the reason for his expulsion “by a voluntary departure from the Republic of Belarus in the interests of public security.” A complaint to the regional police brought no results. The Buda-Koshelevo District Court upheld the ROVD’s decision.
Sergey Protsenko turned for legal help to the Gomel office of the “Viasna” Human Rights Centre (HRC). Together with the independent REP Trade Union, rights defenders drafted a complaint to the Gomel Regional Court; Sergey joined the REP Trade Union.
His complaint at the Gomel Regional Court was considered by a panel chaired by Valentina Lukashenko.
“I’d like to stay in Belarus with my family”
Sergey Protsenko explained at the session that he usually does not abuse alcohol and repents of his wrongdoing. He drew attention of the court that he has a permanent job in Belarus (as a loader at a meat processing factory), housing, a wife and young children, and has to repay bank loans. In case of his expulsion, his wife will be left with virtually no means of livelihood, because she is on maternity leave and receives only a child allowance.
“I like Belarus, I have many friends here and I would like to stay to live with my family,” Sergey said at the session.
The director of the meat factory came to the ROVD himself asking not to expel his good worker.
In their turn, the members of the judicial panel noted that over the 10 years of Sergey Protsenko’s stay in Belarus, he had 14 offenses. Sergey explained that most of them were caused by the absence of a flicker.
Rights defender: the punishment is excessively harsh
Sergey’s at the court session were represented by Andrei Strizhak, a member of the Council of the independent REP Trade Union. At the judicial debate, he said that believed the punishment in the form of expulsion from the country for three years to be excessively severe.
“Sergey Protsenko is an ordinary citizen of Belarus, not an anti-social person; he poses no threat to public safety. He is not much different from a Belarusian – he has a family, housing, credits and employment. The case concerns not only him one, but five people – his whole family. And if Sergey is sent out, it can have serious consequences and significantly worsen the living condition of the family, which can fall into a socially vulnerable situation. If the law were so harshly applied to Belarusians too, half of residents of Buda-Koshelevo could be sent out for such an offense like alcohol over-drinking, especially on Friday evenings,” said Andrei Strizhak.
He asked the court to cancel the expulsion warrant and follow the principles of humanism and proportionality.
The court announced a break until February 24, to find out whether the ROVD had actually violated the expulsion procedure of a foreign citizen.
“The Buda-Koshelevo ROVD takes a very destructive position. Despite the fact that the case is now being considered by the appeals instance, the ROVD has already sent Sergey an execution writ, under which he had to leave Belarus before December 20, 2018; in fact, they are pushing him out of the country, although the court ruling has not yet entered into force,” Andrei has added.