News for August 2009
28.08.2009 Dictator confirmed rigging presidential elections
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said the results of the presidential elections 2006 were rigged.
The Belarusian ruler told in an interview published in “Izvestia” newspaper on August 27: “I have information that 93% voted for me at he last elections. Later, when I felt pressure, I admitted that the elections had been forged. I told then: “Yes, they are forged.” I ordered that the results should be about 80%, I don’t remember the exact figure, but not 93%. 90 is difficult for perception. But this is true.”
28.08.2009 Opposition rallies not welcome in downtown Vitsebsk
Vitsebsk city authorities have arrived at a decision to restrict the number of locations for holding pickets and rallies to three places on the outskirts of the city, thus putting a ban on organizing mass actions in downtown Vitsebsk. The same decision also regulates the procedures of holding demonstrations, including permits by local police, medical and utility departments. Local pro-dem activists have repeatedly called upon the city authorities to authorize holding rallies in the city center. However, the officials are still afraid of letting opposition activists hold actions in downtown Vitsebsk.
28.08.2009 New Life church Protestants to complain at UN about Belarusian authorities
Members of New Life Church continue the all-day pray in their church protesting against persecution by the authorities.
As Radio Svaboda reports, there are no more court instances where the church members could apply to defend their rights.
“We are considering a question on making a complaint to the Human Rights Committee,” the lawyer of the church Syarhei Lukanin says.
The church members held a general meeting and decided not to organize street actions and not to go on hunger strike protesting against the actions by the authorities.
27.08.2009 Political prisoner Zmitser Khvedaruk taken to hospital again
Medical examination of the forcefully drafted “Young Front” activist will begin in Minsk on September 7.
As Radio Racyja reports, youth activist Zmitser Khvedaruk got new diseases in the army.
We remind that on January 28, 2009, Zmitser Khvedaruk was forcefully guarded to the military enlistment office and then to a jail in Akrestsin Street to serve punishment for participation in a rally on May 1, 2008. It became known later that the court didn’t deliver such a verdict. Nevertheless, Khvedaruk had to spend two days in jail. Handcuffed, he was taken to Minsk polyclinic #4 for medical examination. The medical board found him fit for military service, though he had a surgery on a vine a month ago and a number of chronic diseases.
26.08.2009 Vileika Court turns down complaint by local UCPB activist
Vileika District Court has turned down a complaint by a local UCPB activist Uladzimir Maliarchuk against the restrictions of meeting and picket locations. In her verdict, Judge Alena Artsimovich says that ‘decisions concerning locations of mass actions, as well as restricted locations, are within the jurisdiction of local executive and regulatory authorities.’ According to Mr.Maliarchuk, Vileika town authorities have assigned two locations for holding pickets and meetings, both situated on the town outskirts. In his complaint, he said that locations assignment itself ‘is an illegal restriction of citizens’ rights and freedoms.’ The activists demanded to lift any restrictions, since they ‘do not meet Constitutional and international standards.’
26.08.2009 Party of Freedom and Progress denied registration
The Supreme Court of Belarus has turned down a complaint by the founders of the newly-created Party of Freedom and Progress, supporting the decision by the Ministry of Justice and denying registration to the party. Judge Mikalai Babkou claimed the founders had failed to provide correct data in the application. Uladzimir Navasiad, Party of Freedom and Progress leader, says he and his party-mates are going ‘to keep being engaged in politics.’
26.08.2009 Politicians and public figures issue statement in support of New Life Church
A number of Belarusian politicians and public figures have issued an open statement to the President’s Administration, the National Assembly, Minsk City authorities and the Council of Ministers demanding to put an end to the harassment of the New Life Church believers, the BelaPAN news agency reports. The letter was signed by writer Uladzimir Arlou, BPF leader Liavon Barshcheuski, painter Aliaksei Marachkin, For Freedom leader Aliaksandr Milinkevich, Young Front Leader Zmitser Dashkevich and others.
26.08.2009 Oppositionist persecuted for spreading information about prisoner of conscience Dubski
“Young Front” activist from Lida Vadzim Barouski got a summons to appear at a session of the administrative commission in the case of spreading portraits of political prisoner Artsyom Dubski.
As mfront.net reports, activist Vadzim Barouski must go to office 7 in the district executive committee on the address Savetskaya Street 8 at 4:00 p.m. August 26. The summons was signed by commission secretary Y. Yasyukaits. The summons was thrown into a mailbox, but not hand-delivered.
We remind that Vadzim Barouski and Kastus Litsvinski were detained by militia near the railway station in Lida on July 27.
25.08.2009 Disrespect for Belarusian language not confirmed, says Ministry of Defence
Human rights activists Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich and Uladzimir Labkovich have received a reply to their address to the Ministry of Defence, demanding to put an end to illegal persecution of youth opposition leader Franak Viachorka, currently serving in the army, on account of his using Belarusian. The reply denies any summary punishment was used against Franak Viachorka for using Belarusian, saying he was punished for ‘tactless attitude towards a superior.’
25.08.2009 Brest activist Ilyin fined BYR 140,000
Brest Leninski Court has fined local opposition activist Mikhail Ilyin BYR 140,000 for organizing a picket in downtown Brest on 17 August, convicting him of disorderly conduct. ‘The evidence provided by the policemen who had arrested the picket participants was inaccurate and false. The judge, in his turn, rejected Ilyin’s motion for additional evidence for the defence. Moreover, the judge ignored information concerning the violence used against the picket participants during the arrest,’ says Brest human rights lawyer Raman Kisliak.
25.08.2009 EU ambassadors meet with New Life pastor
On 25 August the French embassy to Minsk hosted a meeting of a number of EU diplomats with representatives of the New Life Protestant church. The meeting initiated by the Swedish ambassador Stefan Ericsson dealt with the possible seizure of the church building. The diplomats said they had received a letter from Minsk city authorities expressing their vision of the issue. According to New Life’s lawyer Siarhei Lukanin, the letter contained false information concerning the amount of compensation offered to the church by the authorities. ‘In fact, the USD 13,000 we were offered would not even pay a construction project. As for the building land, the proposals were too vague to consider,’ says Mr.Lukanin.
25.08.2009 Mazyr Court stops civil prosecution of HR activist Pavel Nazdra
Mazyr District Court stops civil prosecution against an opposition and human rights activist Pavel Nazdra, previously charged with violating Article 28.5 of the Civil Code (late submission of data concerning job change), the BelaPAN news agency reports. The court dismissed the case since Mr.Nazdra had already been convicted of the same offence a year before. The activist says he is likely to face another charge in the near future.
24.08.2009 FIDH expert comments on Viasna’s case (continued)
Kirill Koroteev, Mission Delegate of the International Federation for Human Rights, has commented on the case of the Human Rights Center Viasna, facing repeated refusals by the state registration bodies, as well as the situation in the field of Belarusian NGOs, in general. Mr.Koroteev attended the consideration of Viasna’s complaint at the Supreme Court on 12-17 August 2009, calling the final verdict a disgrace of Belarusian justice.
24.08.2009 Russian HR activist not allowed to enter Belarus
Nikolai Zboroshenko, Chair Assistant of the Moscow Helsinki Group, was not allowed to enter Belarus as he was crossing the Lithuania-Belarus border due to a travel ban. The ban must have been caused by Mr.Zboroshenko’s detention during a protest demonstration in 2006.
24.08.2009 Kalinouski education program student banned to leave Belarus
Belarusian board guards have not allowed Nadzeya Krapivina, participant of the Kastus Kalinouski Belarus-Poland student education program, to leave Belarus referring to a travel ban, Radio Racyja reports. However, they failed to provide explanations for the decision.