News for October 2009

BAJ never got answer to complaint regarding attack on journalists

30.10.2009 BAJ never got answer to complaint regarding attack on journalists

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Minsk prosecutor’s office haven’t responded to the appeal of the Belarusian Association of Journalists regarding the events on September 16.

The journalists are going to file a complaint to higher authorities if an answer is not received by next week.

Euroradio learnt this from BAJ deputy head, lawyer Andrei Bastunets.

“Theoretically, the letter might have been sent, but a post office hasn’t delivered it. We are going to wait for some days, if we don’t get a response, we’ll complain.

Svetlahorsk opposition activist fined

30.10.2009 Svetlahorsk opposition activist fined

On 29 October Judge Vital Vashchylin of Svetlahorsk District Court fined Sviatlana Mikhalchanka, local Belarusian Party of Communists leader, BYR 1,225,000 for illegal distribution of the party’s newsletter ‘Left March’ at the Lausan plant entrance on 3 September. The verdict was based on inconsistent evidence by police captain Andrei Sauchanka and a number of the plant’s officials.

Two activists detained for anti-nuclear picket in Mahiliou

30.10.2009 Two activists detained for anti-nuclear picket in Mahiliou

Two Mahiliou activists Aksana Samoilava and Pavel Varashylau were arrested on 29 October as they were holding a picket against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus. They were taken to the local police department and are currently awaiting charges and a subsequent trial.

30.10.2009 Opposition demands Yarmoshyna’s resignation

A new composition of the central Election Commission should prepare for the local elections in Belarus.

Leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Lyabedzka told this at a press conference in Minsk, BelaPAN reports.

“The UCP Political Council says the Central Election Commission should resign because its decisions and actions have undermined confidence of electorate and international organizations in the institutions of elections. So, the UCP suggests forming a new composition of the CEC on a pluralistic basis,” Anatol Lyabedzka said.

Mother of capitally convicted person addresses UN Human Rights Committee with complaint

29.10.2009 Mother of capitally convicted person addresses UN Human Rights Committee with complaint

The mother of Andrei Zhuk, who was sentenced to death for alleged murder of two persons in February 2009, has submitted an individual complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee, claiming that in the course of the investigation and the trial, a number of provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were violated, namely the right to life, the right to freedom of torture, the right to individual liberty and personal immunity and the right to a fair trial. The woman also calls upon the Committee to immediately address Belarus, as a party to the Covenant, with a demand to suspend executing the death sentence before the consideration of the case on the merits.

29.10.2009 Small newspaper Brama gets warning by Prosecutor’s Office

Ales Yazvinski, editor-in-chief of the Niasvizh-based small independent newspaper, has received an official warning by the local Prosecutor’s Office for violating Article 23 of the Law on Mass Media, the press-service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports. According to Mr. Yazvinski, the warning was served upon him by Niasvizh District Prosecutor Andrei Kamornik. The warning claims that Mr. Yazvinski failed to submit free copies of the newspaper to a number of local state bodies, as it is required by the law. The Brama independent newspaper has been published since 2000 with a circulation of 299 copies in the town of Niasvizh (Minsk Region) and its neighbourhood.

Viasna issues statement on death sentences to Vasil Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk

28.10.2009 Viasna issues statement on death sentences to Vasil Yuzepchuk and Andrei Zhuk

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus has considered the appeals by Vasil Yuzepchuk (against the verdict by Brest Regional Court of 29 June 2009) and Andrei Zhuk (against the verdict by Minsk Regional Court of 29 June 2009) and resolved to uphold the decisions, thereby legalizing both the sentences. Belarusian human rights activists have expressed their deep concern over the possible execution of the death penalties. According to the convicts’ legal advisors, the verdict by Brest Regional Court was based on conjectures, resulting from evidence by the police, with no direct proofs at all. Mr. Yuzepchuk was reportedly beaten while in pre-trial prison and the traumas were registered. Apart from that, according to a report by a board of experts, the convict has a light mental deficiency. Therefore, the human rights activists have a strong doubt that the death penalty is too severe and groundless punishment. There are several extenuating circumstances: Andrei Zhuk admitted his guilt, cooperated with the investigators and repented of the offence.

No changes on gender front

28.10.2009 No changes on gender front

The World Economic Forum has released its annual Global Gender Gap Report, placing Belarus 34th (as compared to the 33th rank last year) among 115 countries covered in the report. The Report examines four critical areas of inequality between men and women in 130 economies around the globe, over 92% of the world’s population: 1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment 2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education 3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures 4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio

Militia didn’t answer to BAJ appeal over attack on journalists

28.10.2009 Militia didn’t answer to BAJ appeal over attack on journalists

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) hasn’t received an answer to its appeal concerning the events on September 16, though the deadline was on October 23.

BAJ head Zhanna Litvina told journalists would wait for a reply for a day.

“We haven’t got an official response. Maybe, it was sent on the final day, it may have taken more time because of the weekend. We are waiting until tomorrow,” Litvina told in an interview to Euroradio.

We remind that on September 16, officers of the law enforcement agencies used physical force to hinder journalist of Belarusian and foreign media to perform their professional duties. This happened during a picket of memory of politician Viktar Hanchar and businessman Anatol Krasouski, disappeared 10 years ago.

Andrei Zhuk: pardon appeal rejected

27.10.2009 Andrei Zhuk: pardon appeal rejected

The Board for Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court has turned down the appeal for pardon by Andrei Zhuk, sentenced to death for alleged murder of six persons. During the court session, the convict's legal advisors presented a number of evidence, stating the severe sentence could be reduced. They also spoke in favour of the abolition of the death penalty. In his last word, Mr. Zhuk admitted his guilt, but asked to reduce the verdict.

FIDH Representative addresses UN Special Rapporteur on Torture regarding repressions in Belarus

27.10.2009 FIDH Representative addresses UN Special Rapporteur on Torture regarding repressions in Belarus

Julie Gromellon, FIDH Representative in Geneva, has addressed Manfred NOWAK, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, with an appeal regarding individual cases of ill-treatment in Belarus / harsh repression of protests in Belarus. The high FIDH official condemns cases of recent violent repression of peaceful protesters in Belarus, quoting letters sent by the victims. Here is the full text of the appeal.

Young Front activist Ilyin to appeal illegal arrest

26.10.2009 Young Front activist Ilyin to appeal illegal arrest

Mikhail Ilyin, member of the Young Front Brest office, has lodged a complaint with the General Prosecutor’s Office against his arrest in August 2009. According to human rights activist Raman Kisliak, on 17 August Mikhail Ilyin, together with local For Freedom coordinator Dzianis Turchaniak, held a flash-mob action in downtown Brest. The activists were approached by tow persons in plain clothes and as a result they were arrested. They were taken to Brest Leninski police department and charged with ‘disorderly conduct’. On 25 August Brest Leninski Court found Mikhail Ilyin guilty and fined him BYR 140,000. In his complaint, the activist states that the fact of his arrest, as well as the use of force violate his right to freedom and personal immunity, guaranteed by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Pavel Sapelka: “As before, there are no proofs of Autukhovich’s blame”

26.10.2009 Pavel Sapelka: “As before, there are no proofs of Autukhovich’s blame”

The lawyer of the businessman from Vaukavysk says he doesn’t see any progress in recovering of his client after the hunger strike.

As lawyer Pavel Sapelka, who visited his client in the detention facility on October 23, noted Mikalai Autukhovich was still recovering after the hungry strike.

According to the lawyer, the state of health of the political prisoner remains the same. He doesn’t feel worse, but a significant progress is not noticed as well – Autukhovich is still recovering after the hungry strike, “Belorusski Partizan” reports.

“New Life” Protestants continue fight for their church building

23.10.2009 “New Life” Protestants continue fight for their church building

Minsk-based “New Life” Full Gospel Church challenged in the court of appeal of the Economic Court the ruling of judge Ala Miroshnik to evict the church from its building.

A church lawyer Syarhei Lukanin has told about that to BelaPAN.

In the appeal “total lawlessness” of the court decision is pointed at, as the church community hasn’t received from the state sufficient compensation for the church building, which would be enough for buying a new church. If the decision would be fulfilled, more than 1,000 of believers would stay without a possibility to gather together for prayers and services, which is a violation of human rights, including the right for freedom of conscience, the appeal reads.

23.10.2009 Authorities tighten their control over Internet: Providers to be allowed to block websites

The Interior Ministry insists that providers should control respect for author’s rights on the Belarusian Internet.

The new version of the Belarusian law “On Copyright and Related Rights” prescribes actions of an Internet service provider in case when author’s rights violation is detected, “Interfax” was informed by head of the department on intellectual property defence of the Chief Directorate on Corruption and Economic crimes control of the criminal police of the Interior Ministry of Belarus, lieutenant colonel Alyaksandr Kuznyatsou.

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