News for 19 Feb 2009

Aliaksandr Kazulin speaks in support of Nasha Viasna

19.02.2009 Aliaksandr Kazulin speaks in support of Nasha Viasna

Aliaksandr Kazulin, ex-rector of Belarusian State University and ex-presidential candidate, expressed his vision concerning the registration of the Nasha Viasna human rights organization. ‘I think that the official registration of the Nasha Viasna human rights association is a necessary condition for our citizens to understand that they can be somehow protected against the law. The organization has a long history with many good deeds behind, and these are concrete cases not to be denied by anyone. And its illegal status makes me fear that the official Minsk cannot act honestly in its relations with Europe and find any definite and clear policy. To me, Viasna is one of the most effective human rights organizations, which has been active for almost 13 years, rendering assistance to ordinary people.’

19.02.2009 Homel residents lodge complaint with Parliament

On 18 February a number of Homel residents addressed Mikalai Samaseika, Chair of the Legislation and Judicial Commission of the House of Representatives, with a claim against HR deputy Aliaksandr Bialiayeu, who refused to provide his voters with information on the bill, dealing with an incoming amnesty. According to one of the claimants Andrei Aksionau, the bill should be considered by ordinary people. However, deputy Bialiayeu refused to provide any information on the bill since it is a ‘closed type of bills’ and is not available for voters. The claim names Bialiayeu’s actions intolerable, giving positive examples of cooperation between MPs and voters.

19.02.2009 BAJ Chair Litvina meets with Solana

‘It is very important for us that European officials understand that any dialogue, any reform in the country is only possible in case the freedom of speech is secured,’ said Zhanna Litvina, Chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, after her meeting with Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union. ‘We want the dialogue between Europe and Belarus to be based on actual improvements of the situation with mass media in Belarus,’ said she. ‘Mr.Solana stressed that his first meeting on his visit to Minsk was the meeting with representatives of the Belarusian civil society. It is an evidence of the significance of their opinion for the further development of EU-Belarus dialogue,’ said Mrs.Litvina.

19.02.2009 Anti-nuclear power station construction rally banned

Hrodna Regional Court has turned down the claim by an Astravets civil activist Mikola Ulasevich, urging to reverse the decision by the local authorities to ban a series of pickets of protest against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Astravets district. According to the activist, the court’s decision was initiated by the executive power, which keeps harassing civil activists attempting to oppose the construction of the nuclear power plant in Astravets. However, Mr.Ulasevich is going to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court of Belarus.

19.02.2009 Abolition of capital punishment discussed during meeting of Prosecutor General and PACE delegation

On 18 February during a meeting with the Prosecutor General of Belarus the PACE delegation considered the possibility of the abolition of death penalty. According to Deputy Prosecutor General Aliaksei Stuk, the meeting had a working character. ‘We answered all their questions. We discussed the development of democratic legal instruments in the country, along with the administration of justice,’ said Mr.Stuk. Prosecutor General also said the country was moving towards the abolition of capital punishment. The PACE delegation was told that the cases of using the sentence had been scarce over the past few years. ‘Capital punishment is not an end in itself, neither is it an obsession, but a means of protecting the society from extremely dangerous persons,’ said Mr.Stuk.

19.02.2009 Khvedaruk denied surgery and sent back to army

Zmitser Khvedaruk, forcefully drafted into army “Young Front” activist, was postponed a surgery till 14 March. He has to serve in the military unit in Zhodzina on the same basis as other soldiers.

Zmitser Khvedaruk had a medical examination in polyclinic # 14 yesterday, website mfront.net reports.

It was planned that the activist would be hospitalized after the examination and analyses. It should be reminded that he has a varicose vein and needs a surgery.

19.02.2009 “Hunt” of participants of solidarity action in Barysau

Participants of the action of solidarity, held in Barysau on February 16, are threatened with expulsion from education establishments.

As the Charter’97 press center has learnt from the activist of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Aleh Haravy, pupils of the 9th form of school #8 Mikita Halakhvastau and Artur Dzivin were called to the school administration on Wednesday. The headmaster had some conversations with Halakhvastau, Dzivin, and their parents. She asked the boys to explain in written form why they had participated in the action of solidarity. Then the headmaster said Halakhvastau and Dzivin would be visited “by people from Minsk” on February 19.

19.02.2009 Leaders of Union of Poles of Belarus under pressure of secret services

Teresa Silivonchyk, head of the Baranavichy branch of the unrecognized by the authorities Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), received a warning from the prosecutor’s office about criminal responsibility for activity in an unregistered organization.

According to Andrzej Poczobut, member of the council of the organization and journalist of Gazeta Wyborcza, it hasn’t been the first case when the authorities decided to use notorious article 193-1 of the Criminal Code against members of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Radio Racyja reports.

19.02.2009 Deported from Belarus bishop called in for questioning in case of blast in Minsk

Protestant bishop Veniamin Brukh received a summons to appear in the Tsentralny district militia department of Minsk. The summons says he is called as a witness in a case of the blast in Minsk on official Independence Day.

Veniamin Brukh was detained by Belarusian border guards at night October 16, 2008 at airport Minsk-2. He was guarded to the remand prison and than deported from Belarus.

19.02.2009 Participant of Process of 14 faces prison again

The number of political prisoners is increasing in Belarus.

After arrest of Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka, activist of the “Young Front” Artsyom Dubski faces up to three years of prison.

On March 3, at 9.30 a.m. Artsyom Dubski, participant of the Process of 14, will stand a trial in the Asipovichy city court.

As the press service of the “Young Front” reports, the oppositionist faces from 6 months to 3 years of imprisonment under Article 415 of the Criminal Code of Belarus allegedly for evading punishment, he got for participation in a protest rally of entrepreneurs.

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