News for April 2009

30.04.2009 Baranavichy court leaves rally conduction regulations unchanged

Today Baranavichy Town and District Court has considered the claim by the human rights activist Siarhei Housha, lawyer Karnei Piatrovich and For Freedom member Viktar Syrytsa against the decision of 17 January 2006 by the town authorities regulating the procedures of holding mass actions. Judge Mikalai Silmanovich resolved to turn down the claim. According to Siarhei Housha, the decision virtually outlaws any mass actions in the town. It violates both the Law on Mass Actions and the Belarusian Constitution, as well as the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Belarus. The activists say they are going to appeal the verdict at a superior judicial body.

30.04.2009 Head of World Association of Belarusian Jews Gutman calls on Lukashenka to stop demolition of synagogue in Luban

Yakov Gutman, head of the US-based World Association of Belarusian Jews, calls on President Lukashenka to stop the demolition of an early 20 century synagogue in the town of Luban, Minsk region. Yakov Gutman stresses that the synagogue bears a memorial tablet to one of the most famous rabbis of the 20th century Moshe Feistein, whose is name is sacred to the Jews across the world. He says that the projected demolition of the synagogue will be viewed as a continuous campaign of destructing Jewish churches in Minsk, Jewish cemeteries in Hrodna and Mazyr, and other memorials. ‘We should like to believe that the incident in Luban is the result of misunderstanding by the local authorities and has nothing to do with the state policy. Chair of Luban District Executive Committee Vasil Akulich found it unnecessary to reply to the letter,’ said Mr.Gutman.

30.04.2009 Assembly of Pro-Dem NGOs to sue Ministry of Justice

Members of the working group for the creation of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs Siarhei Matskevich, Aleh Hulak and Ales Bialiatski have filed a lawsuit against the Belarusian Ministry of Justice. The claimants demand to reverse the decision by the Ministry to deny registration to the Assembly in early April 2009, due to a number of flaws in the NGO’s charter, including its name, which does not meet the regulations of the law. ‘We do not agree with the decision and consider it a politically motivated move,’ said head of the working group Siarhei Matskevich. ‘In case the Supreme Court supports the decision by the Ministry of Justice, it will mean a total ban to found associations of NGOs,’ said lawyer Yury Chavusau, who drew up the application. The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs was founded by 7 public associations, including the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Supolnasts Center, the Belarusian Popular Front Adradzhennie, Human Rights Center etc.

30.04.2009 Assembly of Pro-Dem NGOs to sue Ministry of Justice

Members of the working group for the creation of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs Siarhei Matskevich, Aleh Hulak and Ales Bialiatski have filed a lawsuit against the Belarusian Ministry of Justice. The claimants demand to reverse the decision by the Ministry to deny registration to the Assembly in early April 2009, due to a number of flaws in the NGO’s charter, including its name, which does not meet the regulations of the law. ‘We do not agree with the decision and consider it a politically motivated move,’ said head of the working group Siarhei Matskevich. ‘In case the Supreme Court supports the decision by the Ministry of Justice, it will mean a total ban to found associations of NGOs,’ said lawyer Yury Chavusau, who drew up the application. The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs was founded by 7 public associations, including the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Supolnasts Center, the Belarusian Popular Front Adradzhennie, Human Rights Center etc.

30.04.2009 KGB blames journalists of discrediting Belarus with articles about crisis

KGB officers detained a journalist and warned he must write something positive about the authorities.

Otherwise Ivan roman was threatened with a criminal case for “discrediting the Republic of Belarus”.

Officers of the KGB department for the Hrodna region detained journalist Ivan Roman, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, in Hrodna yesterday. He is a correspondent of Radio Racyja and an author of Magazyn Polski, published by the Union of Poles of Belarus, unrecognized by the Belarusian authorities. The journalist was given a written warning about responsibility for discrediting Belarus.

30.04.2009 Human Rights activists oppose trip of former Internal Minister head Navumau to Switzerland

Well-known human rights activists from Sweden and Belarus have addressed leadership of the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation with an appeal not to allow former Internal Minister Uladzimir Navumau to Switzerland.

As informed by Radio Svaboda, the appeal has been made by the president of the initiative “Ostgruppen for demokrati och manskliga rattigheter” Martin Uggla and the head of the human rights centre “Viasna” Ales Byalatski.

30.04.2009 Belarusian authorities banned holding Europe’s Day

Minsk city executive committee denied a permission to hold pickets for collection of signatures in favour of Belarus’ joining the European Union. The officials explained their denial by a non-existent legal norm.

On April 14, 2009 activists of the civil campaign “European Belarus” Dzmitser Barodka and Maxim Syarheeu filed applications for holding a picket in Minsk park of People’s Friendship. In an answer signed by the deputy chairman of Minsk city executive committee M. Tsistyankou is was said that Minsk city executive committee hasn’t sanctioned holding a picket, as it is out of keeping with parts 5 and 6 of the Article 5 of the Law “On mass events in Belarus”.

29.04.2009 Businessmen apply for registration again

According to www.belaruspartizan.org, the Republican Public Association ‘For the Free Development of Entrepreneurship’ is going to hold a constituent assembly in May. Viktar Harbachou, head of the Ukraine-based Belarusian NGO, says they are going ‘to legalize their relations with the Belarusian government.’ ‘The main objective of the upcoming congress is regular legal activities by the organization in Belarus. We understand that we are out of favour with the regime. Still, we are going to test the so-called ‘liberalization.’ – says Mr.Harbachou.

29.04.2009 National Assembly opposing establishment of public commission for revision of criminal, civil cases

According to BelaPAN news agency, the National Assembly of Belarus has turned down the appeal by some 1,000 citizens urging the Parliament to form a public commission for revision of criminal and civil cases. The appeal was initiated by a number of women who disagreed with the verdicts of their civil cases as well as the criminal cases of their relatives. It stressed that the judiciary system of Belarus occupies a high position in the state system. ‘A judicial mistake may change the lives of many people. However, the Supreme Court and the General Prosecutor’s Office do not always correct such mistakes. There are dozens citizens fighting for a reasonable reply to their appeals concerning groundless and illegal verdicts. The steadiness of judicial mistakes undermines the people’s credibility in the state,’ says the statement.

29.04.2009 Youth activists address Prosecutor General with petition

A number of Belarusian youth activists have addressed Prosecutor General Ryhor Vasilevich with an open appeal demanding to take under control the investigation of the cases of illegal persecution of opposition youth activists, including the abductions of Young Front members Nasta Palazhanka and Dzianis Karnou in March 2009, and the assaults of Artur Finkevich and Mikita Krasnou. ‘We think that such savagery is absolutely intolerable in Belarus. We ask Prosecutor General to take over the control of the investigation of the crimes and demand to find and punish the persons behind these cowardly and illegal offences,’ says the appeal. The petition was signed by a dozen famous Belarusian opposition leaders, independent journalists and representatives of intelligentsia – Aliaksandr Milinkevich, Aliaksandr Kazulin, Paval Seviarynets, Uladzimer Khalip, Henadz Buraukin, Uladzimer Niakliayeu etc.

29.04.2009 Monument to anti-Soviet resistance hero destroyed in Vileika

The monument to Rastsislau Lapitski, a hero of anti-Soviet underground resistance for independence of Belarus was destroyed by vandals near Vileika on the eve of Radonitsa.

The memorial stone was unveiled by civil activists in the fall of 2008 in the village of Krasny Berazhok, where the hero was executed. The stone was blessed by an Orthodox priest from the village of Kasuta, where Lapitski was born.

Apparently, a tractor and a dump truck were used to destroy the monument.

The stone had the following inscription: "RASTSISLAU LAPITSKI (І.ІХ.1928 — 28.Х.1950), a fighter for the indepence of Belarus was executed here. The stone was mounted on a concrete cushion and weighed several tons.

29.04.2009 Prosecutor’s office refuses to initiate criminal case for oppositionists’ abductions

Minsk prosecutor’s office has denied a request of the deputy chairperson of the “Young Front” Nasta Palazhanka and an activist of the organisation Dzyanis Karnou who demanded to find persons who had abducted them and beaten them up.

On March 25 the young people were detained by the unknown who had certificates of Internal Affairs ministry and hid their faces under masks, Radio Svaboda reminds.

Nasta Palazhanka and Dzyanis Karnou were first beaten in a car, and after that the girl was released near the village of Tarasava not far from Minsk, and Karnou was taken to a forest near Dzyarzhynsk. There he was beaten up, his jeans were torn, and he was forced to stand on the snow on his knees. Mobile phones of the Young Front activists were seized.

29.04.2009 Maxime Verhagen: “We shouldn’t pretend that everything’s fine in Belarus”

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen expects that the Belarusian dictator won’t come to the EU summit to Prague on May 7.

Thus the work of the Eastern Partnership program’s summit won’t be paralyzed, he believes, Radio Svaboda informs.

The Foreign Ministry head hopes that the signal sent by European diplomats to Minsk has reached the Belarusian ruler. As said by him, the invitation received in Minsk has been addressed to Belarus, not to Lukashenka.

“The Netherlands do not welcome Lukashenka’s arrival to Prague,” Verhagen noted.

29.04.2009 Front Line issues statement on refusal to register human rights organisation Nasha Viasna

Front Line is concerned by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus, on 22 April 2009, to maintain the previous decision of the Ministry of Justice not to register the human rights organisation Nasha Viasna (Our spring). Nasha Viasna is the new name of the human rights centre previously known as Viasna (Spring), which was closed down by the Supreme Court following the demand of the Ministry of Justice on 28 November 2003. The human rights center Viasna is one of the most active Belarusian human rights organisations, specialising in particular in the defence, protection and promotion of political and social rights.

26.04.2009 Riot policemen against participants of “Chernobyl Way” in Minsk

Minsk riot policemen prevented holding peaceful rally “Chernobyl Way” in the centre of Minsk.

The spot near the Academy of Sciences was a sanctioned assembly point for participants. At the noon about a thousand and a half protesters gathered there. Protesters raised white-red-white flags, unfurled streamers “We oppose nuclear power station construction in Belarus”, “No to new Chernobyl”, “Return us our welfare benefits”, “No to chemical Chernobyl”, “No to toxic chemicals plant near Minsk”, “We are against nuclear reactor”. Dozens of white-red-white flags and flags of the European Union were fluttering.

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