REVIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN BELARUS IN JUNE 2005
The new editions of the laws “About public associations” and “About political parties” witness the will of the authorities to limit and strictly control the activity of structures of civil society.
The purposeful campaign aimed at liquidation of the daily non-state newspaper Narodnaia Volia has begun. Regional independent mass media are pressurized as well. Human rights organizations of Belarus have registered numerous cases when students of different educational establishments were persecuted for political reasons. The main reason for persecution became public and political position of students and pupils. In many cases provosts and deans openly collaborate with KGB, provide to it information about active students and arrange “prophylactic talks” together.
1. Limitation of freedom of association
On 29 June the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly adopted the new edition of the law “About public associations”. This document obliges all public organizations and unions to provide to the registering bodies all information about the number of members, structures and measures they held during the year. The organizations are to do it every year and have to provide the necessary data by 1 March. The law also contains the article according to which the activity of public associations and their unions can be suspended for up to six months on court decision. Now public associations can be liquidated not only for single violation of the law on mass measures, but also for violations of the regulations concerning the use of free foreign aid.
The same day the Chamber of Representatives adopted the amendments to the law “About political parties”. Now the activity of political parties can also be suspended for up to six months. The activity of parties can be suspended by the Supreme Court on request of the Ministry of Justice.
According to the document, each new political party will be registered by the Ministry of Justice on the basis of the conclusion of the National commission on registration of public associations.
Hrodna regional justice board liquidated the party structures of Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada.
2. Activation of secret services
KGB workers show interest to activist of independent student movement. On 20 June, before an exam, a KGB worker came up to the student of MSLU Hanna Krasnova and talked to her about her private life and the traineeship in Berlin in autumn 2003 – spring 2004 when she took part in the EU program “Youth in public and political sector”.
On 11 June in Homiel five policemen got over the high fence of the private house of the well-known politician Viktar Karnieienka and burst into the house. They explained their actions saying they were informed that a girl was being raped there. At that time there were some activists of the unregistered movement Lemon in the house. The police tried to shoot them with their camera.
3. Persecution of human rights activists
The investigation of the criminal case against Uladzimir Maliei, deputy of Malaryta District Deputy Soviet and lawyer of HRC Viasna, has been resumed. The criminal case upon part 2 of Article 188 of the Republic of Belarus for “distribution of knowingly false information in Nasha Slova informational bulletin” was brought on 2 February and closed on 2 May because of absence of corpus delicti.
4. Politically motivated criminal cases
On 10 June 2005 Minsk Tsentralny Borough Court sentenced the politician Andrei Klimau to 1,5 years of personal restraint for violation of Article #342 of the Criminal Code (organization of group actions that grossly violated the public ordered). The reason was that Klimau organized a protest action on 25 March 2005.
On 28 June 2005 Minsk City Court considered and left unchanged the sentenced to Mikalai Statkievich, former chair of Belarusian Social Democratic Party “Narodnaia Hramada” and Paviel Sieviaryniets, one of the leaders of Young Front. On 31 May they were sentenced to three years of personal restraint for organization of protest actions against falsification of the presidential election and referendum on 18-19 October 2004. The amnesty made their sentence one year shorter. At present M. Statkievich and P. Sieviaryniets are in Minsk, they have given written undertaking not to leave the city.
Mikhail Marynich, political prisoner, former minister of foreign economic relations was transferred from Minsk colony 15/1 to the National prison hospital. On 30 December 2004 he was sentenced to 5 years of jail with confiscation of property. 1,5 months later the College Board of Minsk Regional Court decreased the term to 3,5 years, taking into consideration his merits, age and bad state of health. On 7 March Mikhail Marynich had a heart attack at Orsha penal colony.
According to the vice-Procurator General Mikalai Kupryianau, the two criminal cases that were brought in 2003 and 2005 against Siarhiei Skrabiets, former deputy and leader of Respublika deputy group, now are united in one case. It’s worth mentioning that the first case was brought in April 2003, according to which Mr. Skrabiets was charged with tricking credits from the state and organization of a group of criminals while heading BelBabaieuski firm. On 14 May there was brought the second case, upon part 1 of Article #13 and part 23 of Article #431 of the Criminal Code – preparation to a crime and giving a bribe. This case was brought according to the materials that were allegedly collected by Brest Regional Board of fighting organized criminality. Siarhiei Skrabiets is charged with inciting of a 50-year old redundant, citizen of the town of Biaroza, to give a bribe of $30 000 to procurator’s office for justification of 21-year old redundant who lived in the village of Alshany (Stolin district) who on 15 April was sentenced to 24 years of jail for brigandage. Skrabiets was detained on 15 May in Minsk and the same day transferred to Brest temporary isolation ward. He went on the hunger-strike of protest that lasted for almost 40 days.
5. Violation of liberty of word
On 9 June Viera Tupik, judge of Minsk Leninski Borough Court ruled to find incorrect and insulting the information printed in Narodnaia Volia newspaper – signatures of people under the appeal about the establishment of the People’s Will movement after the “signers” – Salihorsk citizens Siarhiei Katovich, Nina Hrechyts and Nina Fralova sued the newspaper. She obliged the newspaper to pay 2 million rubles to each of them for compensation.
On 14 June Liubou Valievich, judge of Minsk Leninski Borough Court, sentenced Narodnaia Volia newspaper to pay 100 million rubles about $45 500 to Siarhiei Haidukievich, leader of Belarusian Liberal Democratic Party and deputy of the Chamber of Representatives of National Assembly for compensation of moral harm. The court found the information of the article “Letter from Haidukievich. And Fax to Haidukievich” (published on 1 March 2005) deceitful and insulting. In the article it was said that Haidukievich owed about one million dollars to Hussein’s oil ministry.
The registration and licensing department of Minsk City Executive Committee refused to register the changes made to the registration documents of the Dzienpres company that publishes the newspaper Den. The changes concern the new legal address that has been provided by the House of Poland in Minsk.
Mikola Markievich, the senior editor of Den and head of Dzienpres, received from the registration and licensing department of Minsk City Executive Committee a paper that says the agreement providing office premises is invalid because the new organs of the Union of Poles are deemed as illegitimate. Because of this, the legal address changes made to the Articles of the Dzienpres cannot be registered.
According to order #247 A. Lukashenka signed on 31 May non-state mass media can no longer use the words “national” and “Belarusian” in their titles. The editions that have such words are to change their names and re-register during three months. The activity of those ones who failed to re-register will be considered illegal.
6. Fomenting of national enmity
Polish Government continues anxiously watching the lynching of the Union of Poles of Belarus. The Polish authorities are concerned with the edition of the false version of Glos znad Niemna newspaper, the newspaper that was originally founded by UPB. Most probably, it was done on the initiative of the former UPB chair Tadevush Kruchkouski. Another disturbing fact is that the authorities of Hrodna didn’t permit UPB to organize Midsummer celebration.
7. Persecution at places of work and study for personal convictions
The Ministry of Education distributed the letter “About measures on non-admission of the involvement of pupils and students in lawless activity of political kind”. The letter was submitted to educational establishments and executive committees. In this document it is said: “We point that the authorities of educational establishments and the bodies that administer education bear personal responsibility for the facts of participation of students and pupils in unauthorized measures and lawless actions. They must investigate all cases of participation of pupils and students in unauthorized measures, give principal evaluation to them and take appropriate measures of disciplinary influence up to remanding of pupils and students who take part in unauthorized measures and commit lawless actions in public places.”
The chair of Brest regional organization Young Democrats Hanna Kanius lost her job for participation in oppositional activity. She worked as a teacher of geography at secondary school #10 of Brest. During the whole period of her work she didn’t have any admonitions from parents or the school administration. The formal reason for the firing was that her working contract was over. Hienadz Sahanovich, prominent researcher of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences, was also fired for political reasons.
Volha Klaskouskaia, correspondent of Narodnaia Volia independent newspaper, was remanded from Belarusian State University for political reasons. On 1 June her university year-mate Aliena Andreieva was summoned for a talk by Siarhiei Dubovik, chair of the journalism department of the university. He threatened to remand her as well for collection signatures in support of Klaskouskaia.