News for 18 Feb 2009

18.02.2009 Franak Vyachorka to be taken to hospital in Minsk

Leader of “The Youth of BPF” Franak Vyachorka is to be taken to military hospital in Minsk where it will be decided whether he should stay in Minsk or be taken to hospital in Babruisk.

Franak Vyachorka told it “Nasha Niva” newspaper on the phone.

He said he had high blood pressure and problems with heart after physical exercises.

18.02.2009 Supreme Court recognized military agreements of Lukashenka and Russia lawful

The Supreme Court dismissed a request of the “Young Front” organization asking to make a motion to the Constitutional Court for recognition of agreements signed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Moscow unconstitutional and threatening the independence of Belarus.

The “Young Front” press service reminds that according to Belarusian laws, persons or organizations can’t appeal the Constitutional Court directly. Only Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the “national assembly”, the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, or the Superior Economic Court have this rights.

18.02.2009 Valiantsin Stefanovich: ‘Criminal prosecution of Belarusian youth is caused by the absence of alternative service’

A 26-year-old resident of the village of Kalinauka (Luban district, Minsk region) Mikhail Mikhalenia is currently serving a term for fine evasion, following a sentence by Luban district court awarded in 2007 for draft evasion. Mikhalenia refused to join the army due to his religious beliefs, since the Belarusian legislation does not provide for an alternative service for Muslims. My family adopted Islam in 2003. We stick to the laws of the Sharia and live according to the holy book of the Koran. Both the villagers and the local authorities know we live a different life style,’ says Ivan Mikhalenia, Mikhail’s father. ‘In 2006 my son was drafted to the army.

18.02.2009 PACE delegation meets with independent mass media

‘We would like to see it with our own eyes – whether this is a ‘face-lift’ or a genuine will to move towards progress,’ said Andrea Rigoni, Special rapporteur on Belarus in the Council of Europe’s PACE, during his meeting with independent journalists on 17 February. According to Zhanna Litvina, Chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the meeting was meant for a number of independent Belarusian mass media. The European Parliament members were especially curious if a dialogue could help change the situation in Belarus.

18.02.2009 UCP to strive for mixed voting method

During a press-conference on 18 February, Anatol Liabedzka, Chair of the United Civic Party of Belarus, declared that the party would initiate a public campaign to introduce changes to the Constitution in order to transfer the Belarusian electoral code to the mixed voting method. According to Mr.Liabedzka, the propositions were sent to the President’s administration and the OSCE ODIHR. Mr.Liabedzka says the existing majority rule fails to prove its value. The UCPB suggests introducing the so called proportional representation system, by making amendments to the Constitution and the Electoral Code of Belarus. ‘It might be an additional stimulus for the development of the multi-party system in Belarus,’ said the UCPB leader.

FIDH OPEN LETTER TO THE DEPUTY HEAD SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS

18.02.2009 FIDH OPEN LETTER TO THE DEPUTY HEAD SECRETARY TO THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation Human Rights Center «Viasna» express their concerns with the use of force by the Belarus security forces against peaceful demonstrators on 14 and 16 February 2009, in Minsk, Belarus.

Letter of support from DIHR

18.02.2009 Letter of support from DIHR

The occassion of this letter is the good news that reached us from Minsk that the "Nasha Viasna" human rights organization has submitted their application for registration with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus on 26 January 2009. On behalf of the Danish Institute for Human Rigths I would like to state our strong support to this move and express the hope that the relevant Belarus authorities will look favourable into the application and grant this important human rigths organization registration. Such step will allow Nasha Viasna to pursue its commendable work for the protection and promotion of human rights and rule of law in Belarus on legal grounds.

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