News for 20 Aug 2009

Prosecution of Yauhen Volkau stopped

20.08.2009 Prosecution of Yauhen Volkau stopped

On 20 August Minsk City Prosecutor’s Office has terminated criminal prosecution of Yauhen Volkau, member of the Unification Church Belarusian office accused of illegal membership in the religious organization under Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code. The official letter received by Mr.Volkau says the case has been suspended ‘for lack of corpus delicti.’ The criminal prosecution of Yauhen Volkau was the first case against members of unregistered religious organizations initiated by the Belarusian law enforcement bodies since the notorious Article 193-1 came into effect in 2006.

Businesswoman tortured by police, says Belarusian Deputy Prosecutor General

20.08.2009 Businesswoman tortured by police, says Belarusian Deputy Prosecutor General

Aliaksei Stuk, vice-head of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus, has officially admitted that the arrest of entrepreneur Sviatlana Dvaraninava was accompanied by grave legal violations. According to Mrs.Dvaraninava, she has received an official reply, stating that upon completion of a special scrutiny Deputy Prosecutor General admitted that her rights had been violated during Mrs.Dvaraninava’s arrest in 2004 – she was illegally compelled to testify against herself and deprived of food and water for two days, which is considered as torture by the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Mr.Stuk also said the person responsible for the abuse has been dismissed.

Belarusians urged to mark European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism

20.08.2009 Belarusians urged to mark European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism

A number of Belarusian NGOs, including the For Freedom movement, Society for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments, the Union of Poles in Belarus etc., have called upon Belarusian citizens to mark European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism on 23 August. They are planning to organize a trip of remembrance to the Katyn Massacre Memorial in Smolensk region, Russia, where some 15,000 persons of various nationalities were murdered by the Soviet special police in 1940.

Belarusian Evangelical pastors address President with appeal

20.08.2009 Belarusian Evangelical pastors address President with appeal

On 20 August 50 pastors of Belarusian Evangelical churches have addressed President Lukashenka with an open letter, covering several hot issues of human rights violations in the field of religious freedoms. ‘Numerous Evangelical churches, lacking due to various reasons possibilities to construct their own places of worship, have also been deprived of their right to rent such premises. Besides, believers of Evangelical churches have been subjected to humiliating surveillance by the state security bodies, resulting in repeated prosecutions,’ says the letter.

Yury Lyavonau: “Businessmen, don’t be silent! They won’t let you be!”

20.08.2009 Yury Lyavonau: “Businessmen, don’t be silent! They won’t let you be!”

Businessman Yury Lyavonau held his first press conference after the release from the Minsk pre-trial detention center.

Yury Lyavonau couldn’t comment on instigating new criminal cases against him and his colleagues at the today’s press conference, because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. Nevertheless, he called all accusations “absurd” and “ungrounded”.

He connects the change of the measure of restraint with the increased attention of the mass media, embassies of the European Union and the US to the case of entrepreneurs. “No doubts, it has played its role, because the investigation hasn’t become more liberal,” Lyavonau noted.

Political prisoner Artsyom Dubski remains behind bars

20.08.2009 Political prisoner Artsyom Dubski remains behind bars

The judicial board of the Mahilou region court dismissed a cassation appeal of “Young Front” activist Artsyom Dubski.

The participant of the Process of 14 appealed against the decision of the Asipovichy district court asking to change a sentence for him, Radio Svaboda reports.

Artsyom Dubski wasn’t present in the courtroom. A film crew of the Belarusian official television worked at the trial.

Lawyer Tamara Sidarenka asked to change the punishment to suspended sentence and grant amnesty to Dubski. Prosecutor Bahamolau called on the judges to uphold the verdict. The court took the side of the prosecutor.

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