After three court sessions, the administrative case initiated under Part 1, Article 23.34 (see below) was sent back for revision.
On October 25, Zinaida Mikhnyuk, the head of the Brest regional branch and the acting chair of the REP Trade Union, was detained with the use of force (her body is still bruised) at a protest march in Brest. She spent three days in a temporary detention facility (known as IVS), after which she was taken to the Leninsky District Court of Brest, where she was charged with violating Part 1, Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences, – participation in an unsanctioned mass event.
On October 28, Zinaida Mikhnyuk was taken to court before lunchtime, but the trial began only after it. She refused to plead guilty, but did not deny that she was in Sovietskaya Street.
The video, watched at the trial, shows Zinaida standing next to a woman, holding a flower in her hands. Although policemen assert that they clapped their hands, thus expressing their protest. However, the woman holds a flower in her hands – and there is no more proofs of any “crime”.
“On October 25, I only left home at about 2 p.m., but the video indicates that I was detained at 1:39 p.m.,” Zinaida Mikhnyuk is indignant.
The judge announced a break until October 29 in order to question the policeman who had drawn up a protocol as a witness. At the trial, the interrogated policeman could not tell the court anything specific about the case, since he did not observe Zinaida’s actions and did not detain her.
Since the police failed to provide any proofs of her participation in the march, the judge postponed the consideration of the administrative case till midday on October 30.
“On October 30, policemen failed to appear in court; and the judge ruled to send the case back for revision. Since there are no proofs of the action imputed to Zinaida Mikhnyuk, the judge had to stop the administrative proceedings due to the absence of proofs, but he sent the case back for revision, thereby enabling policemen to find ‘proofs’ of her participation in the protest action,” Vladimir Malei, the legal inspector of the REP Trade Union, told the praca-by.info.
The case seemed to have been “frozen”. But the sequel turned out to be more dramatic:
“On October 29, after the trial,” Mr Malei continued, “when we went down to the ground floor, some people (in civilian clothes and uniforms) came up and said that they had been ordered to take Zinaida Mikhnyuk to the Investigating Committee. It turned out that a criminal case was initiated under Article 364 of the Criminal Code: allegedly someone resisted the policeman, his jacket sleeve was torn off. Zinaida Mikhnyuk refused to plead guilty, and referring to Article 27 of the Constitution refused to testify against herself and her relatives. Moreover, she stated that during the detention, policemen had used force against her – and showed bruises on her body.”
Zinaida Mikhnyuk is still in the status of a suspect within the criminal case initiated under Article 364 of the Criminal Code.
"Violence or threat of violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies shall be punishable by arrest for a term of three to six months, or by restraint of liberty for a term up to five years, or by imprisonment for up to six years."
Alexander Sakharuk, a board member of the REP Brest Region Branch, was arrested for 13 days; and Darya Polyakova, the coordinator of the REP youth network in the Brest Region was fined by 15 basic units; both were detained on October 25.