News for March 2009

25.03.2009 Authorities planning provocation against demonstrators on 25 March

During a special press-conference on 25 March, the organizers of the Freedom Day demonstration Liavon Barshcheuski, Vintsuk Viachorka, Viktar Ivashkevich, along with famous politicians Mikola Statkevich and Anatol Liabedzka, said the authorities had prepared a provocation against the participants of the upcoming rally. ‘According to the information we have received, the authorities are planning to break the peaceful celebrations of Freedom Day. They have prepared cars to be overthrown, riot police to beat up the demonstrators and cameramen to shoot the show. Since we now know about the provocation, it is not likely to be implemented. However, we can expect other attempts to break the celebrations. Still, the organizers will do their best to hold a peaceful and festive demonstration’, said Viktar Ivashekvich.

25.03.2009 Freedom Day: chronicle of persecution

10.00 – According to Radio Liberty, three BPF Youth activists from Baranavichy were arrested by Minsk police this night

10.30 – According to Euroradio, at about 6 a.m. Homel police arrested activists of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Kastus Zhukouski and Siarhei Tryfanau

11.35 – Salihorsk police arrested activist Aliaksandr Tsetsura on his way to Minsk

11.45 – Minsk police detained Russian citizens Oleg Kozlovsky, leader of the Oborona organization, Aleksandr Savelyev and Maksim Tarlykov shortly after their arrival in Minsk.

12.40 – UCPB leader Anatol Liabedzka says ‘some 50 provokers have been trained to organize a provocation.’

13.15 – Homel Court sentenced activists Kanstantsin Zhukouski and Siarhei Tryfanau to 3 days of prison and BYR 1,050.000 respectively.

13.25 – Russian citizens Oleg Kozlovsky, Aleksandr Savelyev and Maksim Tarlykov deported from Belarus

14.20 – The police search the flat of Aleh Ladutska, activist of the ‘Jeans – For Freedom’ movement, and detain Palina Dziakava

14.50 – Three activists Siarhei Kavalenka, Ihar Bazarau and Valery Aliaksandrau detained by Vitzebsk police after organizing a rally in the city center

15.10 – The police search the flats of Young Front activist Dzianis Karnou and Valer Matskevich

15.35 – Yakub Kolas square surrounded by hundreds of policemen and dozens police buses

16.35 – According to lj-users, Minsk TV center is surrounded by the police

24.03.2009 Amnesty International presents report on death penalty in Minsk

On 24 March the international human rights organization Amnesty International presented its annual report on the use of the death penalty. The report underlines that Belarus is the only European country which still uses the capital punishment. Nicola Duckworth, Director of the AI Program for Europe and Central Asia, stresses that the death penalty is the most inhuman, cruel and degrading form of punishment: ‘There is no room for hanging, beheading, electrocution, lethal injection or lapidating in the 21th century.’

24.03.2009 Vitsebsk authorities ban 25 March demonstration

Vitsebsk City Executive Committee has banned the 25 Freedom Day action organized by the Belarusian Popular Front’s local activists. In its reply to the application by the BPF’s Vitsebsk City Office, the local authorities said the requested location was not meant for holding mass actions and thus put a ban on the rally.

24.03.2009 Ideologists pressurize Belarusian Christian Democracy

According the Belarusian Christian Democracy’s press-service, one of the co-founders of the movement Kira Chuk was threatened with dismissal by her employer in case she did not withdraw her signature. She was also forced to write an explanation concerning her participation in the constituent congress of the BCD. The administration of Mahiliou Car Plant say there could be only one party at the enterprise – the pro-government Belaya Rus. Kira Chuk says her contract expires in December 2009 and her employer is not likely to extend it. Besides, she fears her political activity may result in certain financial claims.

24.03.2009 Public activist claims he is harassed by authorities

Ivan Kruk, activist of the For Freedom movement, has lodged claims with Hrodna Regional Prosecutor’s Office, General Prosecutor’s Office and Hrodna Regional KGB Department against the unlawful actions by the police and the KGB agents. The activist claims he and his colleague Mikalai Ulasevich have been harassed for their civil activities against the construction of a nuclear power plant in the town of Astravets, including illegal searches and an unlawful detention on 4 March. The activist is also indignant at the unwillingness of the local prosecutor’s office and the police to investigate the facts of libel against Ivan Kruk and Mikalai Ulasevich.

24.03.2009 Participant of Process of 14 Alyaksandr Barazenka beaten by militia

Activist of the “European Belarus” campaign got a warning for alleged violation of order of serving punishment.

As the website of the civil campaign “European Belarus” reports, on March 23, Alyaksandr Barazenka came to the Frunzenski district criminal procedure inspection to check in at the fixed time. Syarhei Kisel, inspector for corrections, took him to the office, and began to swear, insult the young man, shout that he would rot the guy in prison. Moreover, the militia officers hit Alyaksandr Barazenka in his face several times. After that Kisel gave Barazenka a warning for violation of order of serving punishment.

24.03.2009 Military court finds Viachorka’s draft legal

On 23 March Minsk Intergarrison Tribunal turned down the claim by the youth opposition leader Franak Viachorka and found his conscription legal, including the events that took place on 16 February when the activist was beaten and forcefully escorted to the local military enlistment and registration office. His draft was later suspended by a court decision. However, two days later Viachorka was detained by the police and taken to a military unit in Baranavichy.

24.03.2009 Minsk City Court ignores UN rulings

The civil panel of Minsk City Court have rejected the complaint lodged by Viktar Karneenka against the decision by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denying the Civil Initiatives movement its rights to legal activity. Thus, Minsk City Court has supported an earlier decision by Minsk Leninski Court, stating that Viktar Karneenka, as head of the Civil Initiatives, cannot be the legal chair of the organization after its liquidation in 2003.

23.03.2009 Volnaye Hlybokaye independent newspaper denied right to post subscription

Uladzimer Skrabutan, editor-in-chief of the Volnaye Hlybokaye independent newspaper, has received a letter from the administration of the Belposhta state postal enterprise, saying that the newspaper would not be enrolled on the nation-wide subscription list due to ‘inexpediency.’ According to Mr.Skrabutan, the decision was caused by ‘personal unwillingness’ of the Belarusian postal monopoly to make a contract with the disloyal newspaper.

23.03.2009 Artur Finkevich got 0.5-million fine

The Savetski district court of Minsk fined youth activist Artur Finkevich of 525,000 Belarusian rubles.

A judgement against Artur Finkevich was delivered by judge of the Savetski district court of Minsk Lyudmila Savastsyan.

Leader of the initiative “Young Belarus” is satisfied with the court decision, for, according to him, he will be able to take part in demonstration on Freedom Day, March 25.

20.03.2009 Nasha Viasna lodges complaint with Supreme Court

The Cou-fonders of the Nasha Viasna human rights organization has lodges a complaint with the Supreme Court of Belarus against the decision of the Ministry of Justice to deny registration to the NGO on 26 February 2009. The co-authors of the complaint stress that the refusal was ungrounded and illegal, which is an evidence of systematic politically motivated discrimination of their rights and an outrage against the international human rights treaties, ratified by Belarus.

20.03.2009 Nasha Viasna to keep striving for registration

The co-founders of the human rights organization Nasha Viasna have declared that they would continue their attempts to obtain the official status. They have arrived at a decision to hold another congress and once again apply for registration at the Ministry of Justice. On February 26 the NGO was denied registration due to ‘the violation of holding its constituent congress’. Therefore, Nasha Visna is now looking for premises to hold the meeting. However, the NGO is likely to face numerous refusals by state-owned enterprises.

20.03.2009 European Union approved Eastern partnership

The issue of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s invitation to the summit of the EU countries leaders and the six post-Soviet countries to Prague remains open.

On March 20 in Brussels leaders of the EU countries approved the new Eastern partnership program. 6 post-Soviet countries are included into the program: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The program envisages economic integration and political rapprochement of the EU with these states.

20.03.2009 Young Front activist faces expulsion from school for participation in Freedom Day

One of these days Andrus Tychyna, Young Front activist from Salihorsk, was summoned to the city executive committee for a “preventive” talk with the deputy head of education department Ala Barodzich.

The official threatened to the eleven-form student with expulsion in a plain language. She stated that is case he would take part in the rally on Freedom Day on March 25 in Minsk, he could forget about General Certificate of Secondary Education, the website saligorsk.org writes.

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