Young protesters get off with warnings, fines

  • 2004-03-04
  • Baltic News Service
TALLINN - The Tallinn City Court endorsed a settlement on March 1 in which most of the young people who disrupted the peace by taking part in a riot in front of the United States Embassy last spring would walk away with mere warnings.

The 17 defendants and their lawyers agreed with prosecutor Heili Sepp in mid-January on a simplified settlement that established fines and disciplinary oversight as punishment for the mostly ethnic Russian youths.
The main organizer, 19-year-old Ilja Petrov, was fined 2,500 kroons (160 euros) for organizing the unsanctioned rally that protested against the war in Iraq, while Stanislav Shulajev, 17, who acted together with Petrov, was issued a warning.
Neither Petrov nor Shulajev took part in the rally.
Of the remaining 15 defendants, whose ages range from 16 to 23, six were fined 2,250 kroons, and one of the underage defendants was subjected to supervision of conduct and eight were issued only a warning.
One defendant was punished with 61 days' detention because he disturbed the peace while on probation related to a prior theft.
The defendants must also pay 3,720 kroons compensation levies to the state.
The prosecutor said she agreed to the settlement in a simplified proceeding because most of the defendants were minors who had no previous criminal record and who received positive references from probation officers.
According to the indictment, the organizers spread information about the time and place of the rally via an Internet page they had created, as well as by word of mouth.
The indictment also stated that the organizers did not want to assume responsibility for the organization of a peaceful demonstration because they knew that the protest could possibly provoke participants to disturb the peace. They therefore decided not to inform the city government of the demonstration and thus violated the law on public meetings.
The organizers' appeal brought together nearly 300 people at Tallinn's Town Hall Square last March 30, from where they proceeded to the U.S. Embassy on Kentmanni Street. During the one-and-a-half hours that the protesters remained on the street, some of them climbed onto the hood and roof of a jeep standing in the street and subsequently jumped on it. The vehicle was reportedly totaled.
Some protesters also threw eggs and vegetables.
According to an assessment by the embassy, the rioters caused damages worth 80,000 kroons.