— Did you see him getting off the bus? the defender queries.
— No, but I heard the swearing, says the policeman.
— How can you be sure it was Dynko that sweared? Surely a lot of people were getting off the bus?
— Yes... Ehh... I recognized his voice.
PEN employee also sentenced
Barely an hour later, the author and office manager of the Belarussian PEN Club, Irina Darafeichuk, is escorted out to the prisoner transportation awaiting at the backdoor. She is also alleged to have sweared.
— Seven days. It's madness, she has time to say.
It is a crime in Belarussia to use especially profane words. The defender Darina Hulata would like to know what the editor actually said.
— I will not allow that question, judge Jelena Krajchik cuts her off.
— Surely we should get to hear what he is in fact accused of? Perhaps it wasn't so foul?
— This is a court of law. It's a crime to swear in court. I will not allow it, says the judge.
And so it continues in Room 42 in the courthouse of the Savietski district in Minsk. The two police witnesses give widely divergent versions of how the 32 year old was arrested, nor are they able to specify whether the swearing was in Belarussian or Russian. Two of the four witnesses for the defense, who are all prepared to take oaths that the editor said nothing profane, are refused testimony.
Impossible to survey
In any case it doesn't matter much. Everyone in the courtroom knows the real reason why the editor is standing trial: he was on his way to support the protesters at October Square, and besides he runs a small independent weekly — Nasha Niva — which the regime has long since banned both from news stands and public distribution.
President Aleksander Lukasjenko has chosen a sophisticated strategy for quelling the demonstrations in downtown Minsk: people are arrested arbitrarily underway to or from the square, quietly and well away from the cameras. Then they are prosecuted, either for taking part in illegal demonstrations or for foul language. The trials are dispersed among many different courthouses — the number and schedule are difficult to survey.
Bergens Tidende was the only foreign press at Dynko's trial on Wednesday. When the party chair Anatolij Lebedko was sentenced the day before, we were joined by a Georgian colleague.
Allows the camp to stand
The editor Dynko is in tears as he stands between stern policemen in the hall, awaiting his verdict.
— Lukasjenko could have cleared October Square in minutes. Instead he shows the world that the tent camp is allowed to stand. But everyone knows that it is dangerous to go there. And when all the foreign reporters have gone home, he will take what is left of the camp, Dynko says.
A prison sentence on the record can be devastating for one's studies or career. Noone knows how many are jailed in all — the opposition believes it is close to two hundred.
Dynko gets ten days. Waiting outside in the bluewhite prisoner bus are today's nine other convicts from the Savietski district. Dynko gives the V-sign to his wife and friends, who have come to see him. Then the police drives off with ten political prisoners.