REVIEW-CHRONICLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN BELARUS. APRIL 2006
After the presidential election the repression continued. Administrative and criminal cases are still brought against public activists. KGB agents search flats and interrogate people in Minsk, Zhodzina, Baranavichy, Minsk, Mahiliou, Babruisk and other regions. Despite it, peaceful actions of protest don’t stop either.
On 12 April an ambulatory court sitting took place at prison UZh 15/1 in Minsk. The court decided to grant parole to the political prisoner Mikhail Marynich, former minister of external economic relations and ambassador. On 30 December 2004 Mr Marynich was found guilty in misappropriation of the computer equipment that was lent by the US Embassy to the public organization Business Initiative which he headed. In its letter to the court the Embassy disproved these charges and stated it had no pretensions to Mr Marynich. However, the court paid no attention to this document and sentenced the politician to five years of jail with property confiscation.
1. Fines and arrests of participants of peaceful actions
On 26 April Minsk Savetski Borough Court fined the leader of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka 62 000 rubles. The judge Aksana Reliava found him guilty of violation of article 1#156 of the Code of Administrative Violations (petty hooliganism). At the trial the police witnesses stated that Mr Liabedzka swore at Lukashenka, police and government.
On 27 April the judge of Minsk Savetski Borough Court Iury Harbatouski sentenced the leader of the united democratic forces Aliaksandr Milinkevich to 15 days of jail, the judge Viktoryia Zaitsava sentenced the leader of the Belarusian Labor Party Aliaksandr Bukhvostau to 15 days, the judge Liubou Savastsian sentenced the leader the Belarusian People’s Front Vintsuk Viachorka to 15 days of jail and the leader of the Party of Communists of Belarus Siarhei Kaliakin - to 14 days of jail. On 28 April the youth leader Dzmitry Dashkevich was sentenced to 14 days of jail. All of the defendants were found guilty in organization of unauthorized action (26 April was the day of Chernobyl Way rally and they attended the action).
In the evening of 26 April the police detained three members of the All-Ukrainian public organization Student Brotherhood (Ukraine) for participation in Chernobyl Way. The detainees were deported from the country.
2. Persecution of human rights activists
On 17 April the human rights activist Ales Bialiatski was summonsed to Minsk Savetski Borough Prosecutor’s Office. There he was passed a warning for ostensible violation of article #400 of the Criminal Code, ?#152;knowingly false delation’ - that’s the way the law machinery qualified his commentary to the press-service of Charter’97 concerning the violent dispersal of the peaceful action of 25 March. In this commentary he said: ?#152;It is an evident provocation of the authorities. They started about it yet before the election. At his press-conference the minister of internal affairs Navumau said that they expected explosions and victims among participants of the demonstration. Today we have seen it. The Belarusian authorities including Lukashenka and the heads of the law enforcement agencies are personally responsible for it all. Today the regime has used unprecedented violence against peaceful citizens.’ On 12 April a similar warning was handed to the human rights activist Liudmila Hraznova, vice-chair of the United Civil Party.
3. Freedom of associations
At 10 a.m. on 28 April the Supreme Court started the liquidation of the Union of Belarusian Writers. The UBW chair Ales Pashkevich was fired from Belarusian State University.
4. Politically motivated criminal cases
The youth leader Mikita Sasim is kept in jail for more than a month already. A criminal case for ?#152;evasion from military service’ was brought against him. He can be sentenced to 3 years of jail. He will be tried on 11 May. Mr Sasim was arrested short before the election, on 14 March. The riot police seized him out in a street.
In Orsha a criminal case for defamation of Aliaksandr Lukashenka was brought against Mikalai Razumau, who used to be one of the leaders of Orsha strike committee that in the beginning of 1990-ies organized mass protests of workers, including the blockade of the railway. On 24 March, during a meeting of Aliaksandr Milinkevich with the electorate, in presence of at least 100 persons M.Razumau stated that Lukashenka had relation to the murders of Iury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar. The criminal case against Mr Razumau was brought by the senior investigator Filipovich under part 2 of article #367 of the Criminal Code, ?#152;defamation of president’. At first Mikalai Razumau was kept in jail, but then was directed to Minsk for psychiatric expertise.
On 7 April the judge of Minsk Tsentralny Borough Court Iesman considered the criminal case that was brought against Aliaksandr Kazakou and Dzmitry Zubro. The defendants were sentenced to two years of personal restraint. They still haven’t come to the corrective facilities. The lawyers are going to appeal the sentence to Minsk Regional Court. Aliaksandr Kazakou and Dzmitry Zubro were detained at night on 28 December 2005 for political graffiti (they wrote number 16 that symbolizes the Solidarity Day action). The youngsters spent more than two days in a temporary isolator and were released under written undertaking not to leave Minsk. They were charged with violation of part 2 of article #363 of the Criminal Code, ?#152;resistance to the police’.
On 10 April Baranavichy KGB board brought a criminal case under article # 193.1, ?#152;activity on behalf of unregistered organization’, against the resident of Baranavichy Siarhei Marchyk. On 13 April the flats of Siarhei Marchyk and the youth activists Andrei Iuruts and Viktar Kisliuk were searched. The investigators confiscated computer equipment, editions of Young Front and democratic movement. At present Iuruts and Kisliuk are only witnesses in the case against Marchyk, but can eventually turn into accused as well. Due to the unprecedented pressurization of the activists of Young Front the leaders of this organization urge all participants of the democratic movement in Belarus and politically active people sign under the demand to the authorities to immediately stop the pressurization of democratic activists.
On 13 April friends of 23-year-old Mikhail Pankou found out that he had been detained by Minsk Savetski borough police. Since 11 April he is kept in a temporary isolator on suspicion in ?#152;evasion from military service’. His friends think the youngster was detained for active participation in street actions of the opposition.
Hrodna student Iulia Kasper, who spent 7 days in jail for participation in the peaceful action of protest against falsification of the results of the election, is now interrogated in connection with a criminal case that was brought for forgery of signatures in support of registration of Aliaksandr Kazulin as a candidate to the presidential position.
The coordinator of Aliaksandr Milinkevich’s headquarters Siarhei Liashkevich was accused of ?#152;Organization or participation in mass riot’. Soon his case will be passed to court.
On 26 April the chair of the United Civil Party Anatol Liabedzka was beaten and interrogated by agents of secret services. He was pushed down on asphalt. Then they started hitting him in back and stomach. After this they pulled him in his car, put his hands into handcuffs, wrapped his coat over his head and drove in unknown direction. On 27 April the politician said: ?#152;At first I thought they were taking me out of the city, to Paulichenka’s military base. Then the car stopped, I was taken to another car and driven further. I was led to some unknown building. There I was kept for some time. They put off neither the handcuffs, nor the coat. I had to spend about an hour in this situation and somebody was keeping his hands on me all the time. Soon I was taken to KGB, where I was kept till 6 p.m. There cam two investigators ?#152;good guy’ and ?#152;bad guy’. They said they would interrogate me in connection with the criminal case that was brought for ?#152;terrorism’. Mr Liabedzka also said that they videoed their actions. It lasted for about five hours - it means that about nine hours his friends and relatives knew nothing about his location.
6. Freedom of mass media
On 25 April the Belarusian authorities didn’t admit to the country two TV crews of the Polish public TV (TVP). The members of the first crew, who had entrance visas and permission to work in Belarus, came to Minsk to film the opposition’s rally Chernobyl Way. However, at the airport the border guards handed to them the order to urgently leave the country. The second TV crew that was going to make a documentary about the Belarusian opposition was detained at the transition point Kuznia Bielostocka-Bruzgi. The entrance visas were annulled by the border guards.
On the eve of Chernobyl Way the police detained Babruisk journalists Mikita Bytsenka and Iury Svetlakou and accused them of violation of article #156 of the Code of Administrative Violations, ?#152;petty hooliganism’.
On 21 April the correspondent of the Russian newspaper Kommersant Vadim Dovnar was detained at the entrance of the presidential administration and spent about 5 hours in Minsk Leninski Borough Board of Internal Affairs.
The oldest Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva faces the treat of liquidation. The reason for the start of the liquidation campaign is that on 22 March 2006 its chief editor Andrei Dynko was sentenced to 10 days of arrest (he went to the tent camp in Kastrychnitskaia Square and wanted to pass some food to participants of the protest action against the falsification of the election results). The editorial office of the newspaper submitted to Minsk City Executive Committee to register the legal address of the newspaper in Kalektarnaia Street, 20-112 in Minsk. The answer, signed by the vice-chair of Minsk CEC Mikhail Tsitsiankou stated that the city’s administration considered it ?#152;inexpedient to place the legal address of Nasha Niva on the territory of Minsk’, because ?#152;by the ruling of Minsk Savetski Borough Court of 22 March 2006 the chief editor of the newspaper Nasha Niva was sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest’. On 10 April, after a long protraction, the Ministry of Information refused to issue to Nasha Niva a license for organization of an independent net for subscription to the newspaper. Actually, these two letters mean that the newspaper is prohibited.
7. Politically motivated disemployments
The member of the National committee of the United Civil Party, resident of Pruzhany Uladzimir Radzivonchyk was fired. He states the disemployment is directly connected to his being a head of an electoral headquarters of Aliaksandr Milinkevich during the electoral campaign. Before this for the same reasons the chair of Brest regional UCP organization Stsiapan Navaselchan was fired as well. During the electoral campaign he was sentenced to 10 days of jail and also received another 10 days after the election.
On 10 April Aliaksei Bildziuk, a participant of the peaceful action of protest that took place in Kastrychnitskaia Square of Minsk, was disemployed. He worked as a teacher of physics, informatics and astronomy at secondary school #161 in Minsk.
Aleh Dziachkou (resident of Mahiliou) and Andrei Iurkou (resident of Drybin) spent 15 days of jail in Zhodzina for participation in the peaceful action of protest against the falsification of the results of the presidential election. They were informed about their disemployment. Andrei Iurkou used to work as the main specialist on marketing at Uchkhoz enterprise of Belarusian Agrarian Academy for eight years.
The lecturer of Brest State University and head of the university’s unit of Free Trade Union Valiantsin Lazarenkau was fired for ?#152;immoral deed that is incompatible with pedagogical activity’ by the order of the rector Miachyslau Chasnouski. The formal reason for the disemployment was that during the electoral campaign he was the head of Brest city electoral headquarters of Aliaksandr Kazulin, was detained by the police and sentenced to 7 days of jail for ?#152;petty hooliganism’.
A public activist from Vaukavysk Viktar Vaichuk was fired after he complained to the prosecutor’s office against the illegal search. The matter is that he was a member of the initiative group of Aliaksandr Milinkevich and during the electoral campaign the police searched his flat explaining it with their suspicion that he had relation to the political graffiti in the town. This suspicion proved to be wrong. The activist complained to Vaukavysk District Prosecutor’s Office and soon lost his job.
8. Politically motivated expulsions from educational establishments
About 20 students were expelled from different higher educational establishments for participation in the electoral campaign and protest actions. The formal reason for the expulsions is ?#152;systematic truancy’. About 10 teachers lost their jobs at Minsk universities. Some students also said they were summonsed to deans’ offices and threatened with problems during their exams.