Christmas might come a bit late this year, seeing as Santa is currently on trial in The Republic of Belarus, one of Russia’s neighboring countries.
Actually, there were 15 different Santas arrested. Dressed in red robes and sporting cotton-ball beards, they turned themselves in to the Ministry of Justice for breaking article 193.1 of the country’s Criminal Code, a law that prohibits any public activity of unregistered organizations. According to the news organization, Charter 97, the Santas handed in a petition to the prosecutor general, admitting that they were part of an unregistered association. In the petition, the Santas also made a statement reading,
“We have been carrying out the next activities: organising New Year’s Eve parties in different towns of Belarus, handing out gifts (including among the minors), making speeches at meetings and in the press with congratulations”
The Santas’ protest was a part of the “Stop 193.1!” campaign that was created by a number of NGO’s in Belarus who oppose the law. The campaign’s website claims that the law prevents the development of civil society through making it very complicated to register public associations.
The website continues to explain that the organizations hope to abolish Article 193.1 through cooperating with their nation’s authorities and informing the people of the problems that have been encountered as a result of the law. Obviously this Santa sit-in was initiated as a result of the latter part of the plan. And it seems like it’s working; a writer from the blog Eternal Remont has been following the story and initially joked about the incident. But after hearing that the Santas are indeed going on trial, remarked
Yeah, this is far from over. I’m going to run out of poster board with all the protests this year.
And in case seeing pictures of Santa Claus getting hand-cuffed and taken downtown by Belarusian officials isn’t off-putting enough to make you join in the protest of Article 193.1, the organizations behind the protest have conveniently created this animated video of Santas being beaten into submission to further illustrate their point.