Police fraudulently seize white-red-white curtain from Minsk family
Curtains on enclosed balcony / photo from Alyaksandr
The official reason is to prevent 'unauthorized modification of the facade'.
The police came to the home of Alyaksandr and Darya, ripped off the white-red-white curtains from their balcony and took them away without drawing up a protocol. The young couple lives on the 11th floor of the block No 9 along the Smarhousky road with their little daughter.
The curtains were hanging on the enclosed balcony for about two weeks. Before August 3, they were not a problem for anyone.
"On Monday around 12:00, someone started ringing and knocking on the door. There were people in civilian clothes. The wife was at home alone, very scared and did not open the door. I called the police, said that someone was trying to break into my apartment," Alyaksandr told Euroradio.
A local police unit arrived after the call. Alyaksandr was told on the phone that it was "their employees" who were "carrying out some activities", unspecified ones. Then it turned out that 'some of the neighbors did not like the curtains'.
"I was told to remove the flag from the balcony," continues the man. "I said that it's not a flag, but the curtains, which have nothing to do with the flag and it's not forbidden to hang them, even if it was a flag. In the end, we agreed that in the evening a policeman would come and write an explanation that they had allegedly received a complaint from one of the tenants."
But nobody waited until the evening. A couple of hours later, two plainclothes employees came back. One of them was the deputy chief of law and order, who introduced himself as Pavel, and I did not remember his last name and patronymic. My wife opened the door. They came in, I talked to Pavel on the phone. We are accused of violating Article 21.13 of the Code of Administrative Offences which meant that we 'arbitrarily changed the facade'.
I didn't agree with that. I said we weren't going to take the curtains off. Once again, I asked him to file a report for an administrative offence. The man said he'd draw up a protocol and seize the curtains. He hung up on me without getting my consent. My wife was tricked and told that I had agreed to that. They went into the balcony without permission, ripped the curtains off, without drawing up a protocol for the property seizure or a protocol for administrative violation, without calling for attesting witnesses, without making an inventory of the property being seized. They just came, ripped it off, took it away and left."
Finally, according to Alyaksandr, Darya was told that the protocol would be drawn up later and she would be notified. "They said that after the 9th we may hang whatever we wanted."
That's not the end of the story. Around 22:30, the doorbell rang again and people knocked, while Alyaksandr's little daughter was sleeping in the room. She was in kindergarten that afternoon.
"It was two people in plain clothes who came for the first time. They wanted to talk to me. They said there was a flag hanging on our balcony again. I don't know where they got that information. I told them to come out and see from the street that we don't have a flag hanging. We didn't open the door then."
Alyksandr sent an email to Minsk prosecutor's office. He asked for a legal assessment of the actions of police officers on violation of the Code of Procedure during the property seizure.
The architect's comment: the curtain is not an element of the facade
The architect Kiryl Kryshchanovich told Euroradio that it is a mistake to call the curtain an element of the facade:
"The curtain is a part of the interior. It's the same as wallpaper, furniture and lighting. Color and style of these elements are not regulated by any technical documents in force and are subject to individual preference. The fact that the curtains can be seen from the street... Well, what's the big deal? All the more so because the facade in question already has a rather active contrasting palette, where the color spots are designed by the authors of the project to make the so-called shimmering effect.
In this case, such curtains can only support the general style and expressiveness of the facade".
Euroradio asked the Main Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk City Executive Committee for clarifications.