A judge of the Minsk City Court on October 25 sentenced opposition activist Dzmitryj Palijenka to a three-year “restricted freedom” term.

The restricted freedom sentence requires that the convict should stay at home after 7 p.m. on workdays and should not leave home on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

Judge Piotr Arloŭ also ordered that Mr. Palijenka undergo compulsory treatment for alcoholism.

Mr. Palijenka, 25, who was charged with felony disorderly conduct under Part Three of the Criminal Code’s Article 339, spent more than seven months in jail before being released after the sentence was pronounced on Friday.

The public prosecutor in the trial suggested Wednesday that the accused be sentenced to six years in prison, and that the sentence be shortened by one year under an amnesty program.

As Mr. Palijenka told reporters, he believes that he was given the non-custodial sentence because Aliaksandr Lukašenka seeks to normalize relations with the West and does not need to have one more political prisoner in the country in the run-up to next year’s presidential election.

Mr. Palijenka was charged over an incident that happened on March 13, 2019. 

According to the prosecution, while standing in a staircase in an apartment building on Hurskaha Street in Minsk at about 8 p.m., he attacked a man with pepper spray after the man rebuked him for smoking.

The alleged victim in the case, a certain Aliaksiej Juryn, said in court that the accused sprayed pepper gas in his eyes and ran away without saying a word.

He acknowledged that he was intoxicated by alcohol at the time of the incident, as he was returning home from a restaurant.

Mr. Juryn claimed that he said nothing that could be interpreted as a threat and did not attempt to use violence against the accused.

Mr. Palijenka insisted that he did not smoke in the staircase, that it was the alleged victim who attacked him, and that grabbed his pepper spray and used it to defend himself from the attacker.

“I want to stress that the man was drunk and aggressive,” Mr. Paliyenka said on Wednesday. 

Mr. Palijenka pointed out that the charge against him was fabricated, and that authorities were persecuting him for his anarchist views.

He said that the prosecution had dropped all but one of the charges against him, including incitement of social enmity and insulting an official, because authorities did not want his case to be viewed as politically motivated.

In October 2016, Mr. Palijenka was given a two-year suspended prison sentence for allegedly tearing a policeman’s jacket during a police operation to disrupt a "Critical Mass" cycling ride in Minsk in the spring of 2016 and for allegedly distributing pornographic materials online.

Mr. Palijenka was imprisoned in April 2017 after the suspension of the sentence was revoked.

Amnesty International recognized Mr. Palijenka as a prisoner of conscience, while Belarusian human rights groups described him as a political prisoner.

He was released in October 2018 on completion of his prison term.