News for 20 Feb 2009

20.02.2009 Dzmitry Zavadski’s mother speaks in support of Nasha Viasna

Volha Zavadskaya, the mother of the disappeared journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, has expressed her support of the founders and the members of the Nasha Viasna human rights association. ‘I have known Viasna for 10 years already. I am very glad that the organization keeps working. Its members have provided a lot of legal assistance. I am very sorry they lost their legal status in 2003. I think it intolerable that the organization cannot obtain registration. Every citizen of Belarus has a right to protect his or her rights, and organizations that help us do this should exist legally. So I am for the registration of Nasha Viasna in Belarus.’

20.02.2009 Vandals to escape punishment?

Minsk city police department has initiated an investigation into the cases of defilement of the Kurapaty memorial forest on the outskirts of Minsk on 1 November 2008. According to head of Minsk regional investigation department Dzmitry Siarchenia, the investigation will last for at least a month. On 11 January 2009 Minsk district police suspended the criminal case against two youngsters accused of defiling the memorial. However, in late January 2009 Deputy Prosecutor General of Minsk district resolved to recommence the prosecution due to the absence of the delinquent.

20.02.2009 Catholic priest fined

On 20 February Lelchytsy district court fined Catholic priest Vital Myshona BYR 105,000 for failing to follow the rulings by the local geodetic department following the installation of a cross in the town of Lelchytsy. The priest was accused of unauthorized installation of a Catholic cross.

20.02.2009 Will Young Front be finally registered?

Over 30 Belarusian towns have received applications from the Young Front movement, asking for permission to hold a constituent assembly so that the organization’s local offices can obtain legal addresses. It is Young Front’s fifth attempt to receive state registration. ‘The Ministry of Justice has declared a campaign of registration of Belarusian NGOs. Most of them are local pro-government initiatives receiving official status from local authorities. The Belarusian authorities seem to be showing their willingness to develop and liberalize the civil and political spheres. So Young Front has arrived at a decision to initiate another attempt to obtain registration starting from its local offices. The decision by local authorities will be an evidence of their evidence to start a genuine dialogue with the society,’ says Young Front Chair Zmitser Dashkevich.

20.02.2009 Novy chas newspaper receives ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius award

The Novy chas independent Belarusian newspaper has been awarded the international ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius mass media prize. According to RFE/RL, the newspaper was nominated by the German Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gernot Erler, along with the Union of Belarusian Writers. ‘It is a great honour, and a great responsibility at a time. We hope that we have provided a high level of work under the current circumstances, just like any other independent Belarusian newspaper. Since it is not the first ZEIT-Stiftung prize received by Belarusian mass media, it is very pleasant to be in this good company,’ said Novy chas’ editor-in-chief Aliaksei Karol. The official ceremony will take place on 3 June at the Nobel Institute in Oslo.

20.02.2009 Ivan Shyla in army threatened with disciplinary battalion

Ivan Shyla, forcefully drafted into army “Young Front” activist, suffers pressure from the commanders of the military unit.

Radio Svaboda learnt this from youth leader Ivan Shyla’s father.

“Firstly, he is accused of being a pretender and being ill too often. Secondly, they are trying to blame him for reading such “provocative” editions as “Nasha Niva” newspaper and “Arche” magazine. Ivan’s talks with soldiers are called political activity, he is threatened with a disciplinary battalion. They say his activity is political, which is unlawful, so, they need to take measures,” he says.

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