Review of Human Rights Violations in Belarus for July 2004
On 14 July Aliaksandr Lukashenka signed the decree to appoint the election into the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus on 14 October 2004.
On 15 July the Central Electoral Commission refused to follow the proposals of the deputy U. Navasiad concerning improvement of the electoral process. In the refusal it is stated that these proposals excess the limits of the commission’s competency or are precisely described in the acting electoral legislation. The reluctance of the Central Electoral Commission to make any improvements to the electoral legislation witnesses that the authorities are not ready to conduct transparent and democratic election. The preparation to the election started against the background of mass human rights violations. In July the Ministry of Justice issued warnings to four oppositional parties – Belarusian People’s Front, United Civil Party, Belarusian Social Democratic Party and Belarusian Labor Party and sued to the Supreme Court of Belarus to liquidate Belarusian Labor Party. All these parties are members of the People’s coalition “5+”. About 60 persons were detained, were detained at the demonstration of protest against the tenth anniversary of A. Lukashenka’s rule. 15 of them were sentenced to different terms of jail, 9 – fined, 2 – warned and one was taken to hospital as a result of police beating.
1. Campaign on Liquidation of NGOs and Parties
On 5 July the BPF and the United Civil Party received warnings from the Ministry of Justice for urges to take part in the action “Chain of Concerned Readers” in support of the “Narodnaya Volia” newspaper.
On 5 July the BPF and the UCP received a letters from the Justice Ministry, signed by the first vice-head, A. Petrash, where it was demanded to file documents for registration of membership in People’s coalition “5+”. In the letter it was said: “We recommend stopping participation in the activity of the unregistered formation till the question of its registration according to the established order is solved. Otherwise, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus will consider participation of the party in the activity of the abovementioned association as a gross violation of the legislation on political parties.”
The UN Committee on Human Rights registered under No. 1296/2004 the complaint of members of the public association “Human Rights Center “Viasna” against liquidation of the association. Within the limits of the procedure the Committee filed inquiry to the official authorities of the Republic of Belarus, demanding to present information concerning this case. The authorities are to answer to the Committee within 6-months’ term. It’s worth mentioning that on 28 October 2003 the public association “Human Rights Center “Viasna” was liquidated on suit of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus.
2. Criminal persecution on political motives
On 18 May the head of the strike committee of private entrepreneurs Valery Levanewski was charged with violation of part 2 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code – public insult to President of the Republic of Belarus. Since that time he has been kept in the investigative ward in Hrodna. The term of his detention there has been prolonged till 15 August for the sake of investigation. If found guilty, Levanewski can be fined, sentenced to 2 years of corrective labor or up to 3 years of personal restraint or jail. The investigation believes the fly-sheets which Levanewski distributed during the protest action of 1 May were insulting for President.
The public activist, former minister, deputy of the Supreme Soviet, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus Mikhail Marynich has been kept in the investigative ward of the KGB since 26 April. Despite the medical conclusion about the necessity to hospitalize him, the authorities refuse to change the restraint.
3. Violation of the civil right to peaceful assemblies. Administrative punishment
On July 1 Minsk police detained Anatol Shumchanka, head of the Entrepreneurs’ Association “Perspektyva”. The incident took place on Rakawski Kirmash market. Head of “Perspektyva” came to the market to help market vendor Lilia Shymanovich protect her rights. The market administration began to persecute Lilia, who participated in the entrepreneurs’ strike in support of the MPs’ on hunger strike. The market guards kept Shumchanka in the basement for an hour.
In the evening of 2 July the head of Mahiliow organization of the United Civil Party (UCP) Uladzimir Shantsaw and the secretary of Mahiliow regional committee of the Party of Communists of Belarus Anatol Zawyalaw were detained in the town of Bykhaw (Mahiliow region).
On 2 July the police detained the “Zubr” activists Darya Maldavanava and Katsiaryna S. for distributing the “Zubr” newspaper in the center of Minsk and took them to Minsk Tsentralny Borough Board of Internal Affairs. The newspapers were confiscated.
Two more activists, Alena Shpironak and Yuliya Awhustsinovich, were detained in the city of Baranavichy. The police took them to Baranavichy CDIA and searched there bags, where several hundreds of fly-sheets were found. As a result, reports for violation of Article 143 of the Code of Administrative Violations were composed on the detainees.
On 3 July in Minsk the police detained Liubow Kuchynskaya for handing out newspapers. They detained her for more than two hours and confiscated the newspapers without composing any report about confiscation.
On 12 July the activist of the unregistered youth movement “Zubr” Nasta Vasilenka was detained by the police while handing-out newspapers in Minsk subway. The policemen took her to a police point ad composed a report for resistance to legal demands of the police (Article No. 166 of the Code of Administrative Violations).
On 12 July in Brest the police detained Pavel Khivuk, Pavel Dzemidziuk and minor Mikhail Ilyin who were distributing the “Osvobozhdzeniye” newspaper.
On 14 July in the town of Zhyrovichy, situated in Slonim district the police detained the head of the public association “Vetraz” Ales Masiuk and his friend for handing-out fly-sheets to passers-by. The police composed a report about confiscation of 22 fly-sheets. Then, according to Masiuk, there arrived a KGB worker from Slonim, who didn’t introduce himself. In an hour the detainees were let go.
On 21 July in Minsk about 60 persons were arrested during a peaceful action of protest against the tenth anniversary of A. Lukashenka’s presidency, 15 of them were sentenced to different terms of jail, 9 – fined and 2 – warned.
On 21 July in Vitsebsk there were detained 23 participants of the peaceful action “Chain of Concerned People”, the aim of which was to draw attention to the problem of disappearance of public activists in Belarus.
4. Violation of liberty of speech
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus deprived journalists of the Russian TV channel “Russia” of accreditation and closed the office of its correspondent in Minsk for elucidation of the action of protest of 21 July and statement that some 2-5 thousand of persons took part in it (the official version is about 150 persons).
5. Disappearance of Public Activists in Belarus
On 7 July Human Rights Center “Viasna” applied to Mr. Sidiki Kaba, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) with the request for juridical consultation and assistance concerning the possibility to bring criminal cases against the duty officials of the Republic of Belarus who are suspected in kidnaps and possible lynching of political opponents of Lukashenka’s regime.
The Committee of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on Rights of Parliamentarians and the Commission on Juridical Issues and Human Rights of PACE gave publicity to their joint statement, urging the authorities of Belarus to investigate the disappearance of one of the opposition leaders, former vice-speaker of the Supreme Soviet Viktar Hanchar.
6. Violent, inhumane treatment by the police
During the action of 21 July in Minsk the police violently beat Ruslan Kharkevich and Mikhail Awdzeyew, both of whom were hospitalized. Awdzeyew was even operated on suspicion of splenic rupture, that didn’t confirm.
7. Beating of public activists
At 11.30 p.m. Valery Fralow and his driver were beaten in the porch the house where Fralow’s duty flat is situated. When Fralow and his driver entered the porch, five unknown persons in black masks burst on them. They hit them in the face, ribs and kidneys. The driver got a tooth plucked out. The unknown persons took away Fralow’s bag with documents and books, valet and passport. Minsk Leninski Borough Prosecutor’s Office brought a case on this fact, on part 2 of Article 205 – robbery.
Unknown persons burst on the head of Homel regional organization of United Civil Party Leanid Arlow in a lonely place on the way from the office to home. They hit him in the back of the head. When Arlow came back to conscience, there wasn’t anybody there and his back with documents disappeared. Arlow applied to the police and a criminal case on this incident was brought.
Minsk publishing office of the close enterprise “Pravoslavnaya Iniciativa” (“Orthodox Initiative”), which is well-known by its book “War on Villainy Terms” (that was found insulting by Belarusian Jews and was a subject of many trials), issued two similar books.
One can buy the new books in the bookstore “Pravoslavnaya Iniciativa” in the center of Minsk. The first of them is “How They Make One Anti-Semite” by Andrey Jurayev. It is decorated with straightly anti-Semitic cartoons, such as a picture of fascism and Zionism as two branches of the same tree. The second book is entitled “There are no bad people’s”. It states, for instance, that the system of the first years of the Soviet rule was built after Jewish community. The books were signed for printing in February and March.
-- “Pravoslavnaya Iniciativa” issued two exceptionally terrible anti-Semitic editions, with anti-Semitic cartoons that seem to be taken from the Nazi magazine “Sturmer”. They again write of ritual murder of the Russian royal family and “Zion Protocols”, -- said vice-head of the Union of Jewish organizations Yakaw Basin.
He also said that in November 2003 and February 2004 the Union of Jewish organizations complained against “Pravoslavnaya Iniciativa” for fomenting of national enmity. The complaints concerned the case when anti-Semitic production was distributed at a Cossack assembly. However, neither Belarusian Prosecutor’s Office nor the Committee on National and Religious Cases found anything wrong with the mentioned publications and Minsk exarchate of Russian Orthodox Church is not going to stop the printing.
9. Violations of the freedom of conscience
Belarusian Baptists Leanid Martynovich, Mikalay Krynets and Vasil Bilas were fined 380 000 rubles each for congratulation of patients of Mazyr hospital with Easter, were fined for alleged violation of articles 4.1, 167-1 261 and 262 of the Code of Administrative Violations. On 6 July the judge of Brest Leninski Borough Court A. Miraniuk filed to the main accountant of the “Vodakanal” enterprise where Leanid Martynovich worked the ruling to exact from him the fine. 20 % of Martynovich’s monthly wage is exacted. Court officers threaten to confiscate personal belongings of Mikalay Krynets for non-payment of the fine. On 16 July the judge of the town of Mazyr and Mazyr District A. Beladzedaw ruled to exact from Vasil Bilas his car, “Volkswagen-Passat”, produced in 1988 and empowered Mazyr Town Road Police to execute this procedure.
10. Non-admission to the country and deportation of representatives of the world community
On 22 July Agneszka Komarowska, head of Belarusian programs of Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland), came to Minsk on a mission, but wasn’t let out of the airport “Minsk-2”. Workers of passport and visa service didn’t let her out, saying it would be better for her to leave Belarus. They insisted on her buying a ticket to Vienna, from where she would have to return to Warsaw. Agzeszka Komarowska spent the night between 22 and 23 July at the airport.
Belarusian authorities deported the English scientist Alan Flowers, who read lectures in Belarus and studied the consequences of Chernobyl accident. It is prohibited to him to enter Belarus for the next five years. 29 July, when he came for a meeting with the rector of Sakharov institute, he was met by two workers of Minsk Partyzanski BPVS and one KGB worker. They drew on him a report for violation of part 1 of article 185 of the Administrative Code (violations during registration of foreign citizen).
On the following day workers of Visa and Registration Department explained to Mr. Flowers and vice-consul of the British Embassy that there were no pretensions to Flowers’ registration and the reason for the deportation was that professor’s name was found in the list of the persons to who the entrance into Belarus was prohibited.