On 23 March, the court of the Frunzensky district of Minsk began to consider the case of interpreter Olga Kalatskaya, who is accused of malicious hooliganism. She allegedly hit STV employee Grigory Azarenok several times during one of the rallies. The state prosecution requested two years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary for a slap in the face.
Olga Kalatskaya has been in custody since January 15, on that day she was detained during her English lessons. She is defended by lawyer Yury Stashkevich. The case is being considered by judge Alla Skuratovich. The prosecution says that Olga Kalatskaya slapped Grigory Azarenok two times. She is charged under parts 1 and 2 of article 339 of the Criminal Code [malignant hooliganism – Ed], for which she could face arrest, restriction of freedom for up to three years, or imprisonment for a term of six years.
As follows from the text of the charge, the first time she hit a TV host near house no. 30 on Pritytskogo Street. “Acting out of hooligan motives, without reason, disregarding generally accepted rules of behaviour and morality, in the presence of strangers, openly opposing the interests of society,” she struck at least one blow in the cheek area, thereby causing Azarenok physical pain and suffering. Then, in a period from 1.30 pm to 2 pm, she gave him another slap in the face. Olga Kalatskaya fully admitted her guilt, although during the questioning she pointed out that due to stress and extreme emotional stress, she had no recollection of the second episode.
In court, Olga Kalatskaya explained her actions: “On November 12, 2020, Roman Bondarenko died. I was very sad and was in deep mourning, felt really sorry for the mother who lost her only son. I think my acquaintances and relatives had the same feelings. I left the house at about 11 o’clock. However, when at a bus stop, I saw that public transport was not working. I waited for about an hour. A minibus approached, it was the only type of public transport that worked at that time. I decided to get off it at a Pushkinskaya metro station. There I saw a small group of people with whom Azaryonok was talking. He asked, “Why did you come here?”
People answered him: “To express grief over the death of Roman Bondarenko.” He kept asking them whether they know his patronymic name. Without receiving an answer, he said: “How can you grieve for Bondarenko, if you can not even call his father’s name?” It deeply offended and outraged me. In fact, it was claimed that the people gathered could not mourn the death of Bondarenko, express condolences to his family, because they do not know the details of the biography. In a state of emotional shock, I approached and gave him a slap. I did not want to hurt him, it was a purely symbolic gesture. I’m sorry it turned out so badly that I couldn’t help myself.”
Azarenok asked to stop criminal prosecution
Then the court began to question victim Grigory Azarenok. The man is 25 years old, he works as a special correspondent for the STV TV channel. The victim said that on that day he went “to cover an unauthorized mass event near the Pushkinskaya metro station.” He arrived there at about 12.30-12.40 am together with a colleague, operator Andrey Ivanenko.
“People gathered there to hold a small unauthorized event. <…> A group of people surrounded me, started shouting, including with obscene language.”
“Did they insult you?” clarified the state prosecutor.
“They tried, but I do not consider myself offended,” he answered.
“What questions did you ask as part of your editorial assignment?”
“Usual questions for unauthorized public events, ‘What did you come for? What is your goal?’.” According to Azarenok, after he asked about the patronymic name of Roman Bondarenko, he was surrounded by a “group of citizens” with whom he tried to have some kind of dialogue.
“At a certain moment, this group of people began to grab my jacket, toss me back and forth. Later, the defendant came up and slapped me in the face. I didn’t see it then, because everything happened very quickly,” the TV host added.
Azarenok noted that he did not write a statement against Olga Kalatskaya, “he forgot about what happened on that same evening, but the law enforcement agencies found this person.” After that, Azarenok allegedly wrote a petition to terminate the criminal prosecution against Olga Kalatskaya, he did not insist on bringing her to criminal responsibility, he has no claims.
“Have you forgiven the accused?” asked the judge.
“I do not think that she somehow insulted me, so I have nothing to forgive her for,” explained Grigory Azarenok.
The state prosecutor insisted that the actions of Olga Kalatskaya were correctly qualified by the preliminary investigation authorities. According to the assistant prosecutor, the interpreter in an aggressive manner expressed “demonstrative disregard” of social norms, and did it at least twice.
In her opinion, reconciliation between the accused and the victim is not enough to end the criminal prosecution. Therefore, the state prosecutor believes, Olga Kalatskaya should be found guilty and she should be sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open penitentiary. The verdict will be delivered on 24 March, at 4 pm.