Bloomberg News

Belarus Hands Stuffed-Toy Rally Organizer 10-Day Jail Sentence

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A Belarusian court jailed Pavel Vinogradov, an opposition activist who has served prison time for taking part in political demonstrations, for 10 days after he organized an anti-government rally using stuffed toys.

Teddy bears, toy puppies and hares were placed Feb. 10 on a snow-covered flower bed in front of government headquarters on Nezavisimosti Square in the capital, Minsk, the Belapan news agency reported today.

They held paper signs with slogans such as “Toys against lawlessness,” “Cops tore my eye off” and “Alejandro! Set the people free!” in reference to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus’s president, Belapan said.

Vinogradov, a member of the opposition Tell the Truth! Movement, which is led by former presidential candidate Vladimir Neklyaev, was arrested yesterday and charged with organizing the unsanctioned rally, according to the report. Vinogradov was sentenced to four years in prison for participating in mass unrest after Dec. 19, 2010 presidential elections. He was released Sept. 14, 2011.

In a separate incident last year, Belarusian authorities fined a one-armed man for clapping during an anti-government rally in Grodno, a city near the Polish border, RIA Novosti reported July 8, citing opposition website Charter 97.

The man took part in a demonstration involving spontaneous rounds of applause among protesters as Belarusians rallied against the government’s handling of the nation’s economic crisis, the news service said.

--Editors: Andrew Langley, Zoe Schneeweiss

To contact the reporter on this story: Aliaksandr Kudrytski in Minsk, Belarus at akudrytski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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