Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in April 2012

2012 2012-05-11T17:44:12+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/agliad08.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

April was marked by first steps towards de-escalation of the political conflict between the Belarusian authorities and the European Union. Two political prisoners were released as a result – former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau and his electioneering agent Dzmitry Bandarenka (on 14 and 15 April respectively). In response to this move the EU refused to take further sanctions against Belarus, while stressing the need to release all political prisoners at the meeting of 23 April.

Another symbol of the beginning of a political thaw in relations between the EU and the Belarusian authorities and the gradual restoration of dialog was the return of the EU ambassadors who had left Belarus in late February to express solidarity with the head of the European Commission Maira Mora and Ambassador of Poland Leszek Szerepko to whom the Belarusian Foreign Ministry had proposed to go to their capitals for consultations in order to "convey to their leadership the tough position of the Belarusian side about the unacceptability of pressure and sanctions."

However, official Minsk took the position of denying that the release of A. Sannikau and Dz. Bandarenka was the result of political pressure from the EU. On 21 April, speaking to reporters at the community work day in Minsk, Lukashenka said: "If they hadn't written an appeal for pardon, they would have still been in prison, and those who stayed there and haven't written an appeal to the president, will be left there". At the same time, he did not rule out that an amnesty could be declared, calling the approximate term, the Day of Independence (3 July), and explaining his intention in the following way: "We have released these bandits whereas normal people suffer in prisons". By this statement Lukashenka called not only the approximate date, but also the legal procedure which could be used for the release of political prisoners.

The Head of Presidential Administration of Belarus Uladzimir Makei also categorically denied that the release of political prisoners was a result of the tough and consistent position of the EU. On 17 April he said: "There will be no release under pressure... They say that there are still some fifteen or twenty political prisoners who, I quote, "must be released immediately, and immediately rehabilitated". Even radical revolutionaries-anarchists, who have thrown bottles with Molotov cocktails at the Russian Embassy, were included into this list. According to the interpretation of the European Union, tomorrow this list can be extended to 50-60 people."

These statements of the country's leaders left the hope that the process of the release of political prisoners would be resumed after the seven-month break since September 2011. The Human Rights Center "Viasna" insists on the unconditional release of 10 persons: Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Autukhovich, Ales Bialiatski, Dzmitry Dashkevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Siarhei Kavalenka, Eduard Lobau, Pavel Seviarynets and Mikalai Statkevich, and requires the review of the case of Artsiom Prakapenka, Pavel Syramalotau and Yauhen Vaskovich at a fair trial, which would issue adequate penalties for their offenses.

The tendency towards restriction of the civil and political activity of political opponents including former political prisoners strengthened during April: a criminal case for violation of the conditions of the preventive supervision was brought against Vasil Parfiankou, preventive supervision was established over Pavel Vinahradau for the term of two years (in March such supervision was also established over Uladzimir Yaromenak for one year). The administrative persecution of activists on trumped-up grounds continued as well. Cases of illegal and arbitrary detentions and arrests were registered. April was marked with the suppression of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly: all street actions but the "Chernobyl Way" rally in Minsk were banned in Belarus.


Political prisoners. Politically motivated criminal prosecution

The most important event in April regarding political prisoners was the release of former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau and his electioneering agent Dzmitry Bandarenka. Andrei Sannikau, who was serving his sentence in the correctional colony "Vitsba-3", was released on 14 April, Easter's eve. The following morning Dzmitry Bandarenka was released from Mahiliou colony #15. The pardon decree was signed by Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

On 17 April A. Sannikau was summoned to the criminal executive inspection of Pershamaiski Police Department of Minsk, for prophylactic registration. There he was warned that a preventive supervision would be established over him in case he committed any administrative offenses. No travel restrictions were imposed on him. The former presidential candidate was informed that his criminal record would remain for at least 8 years. The same day the former political prisoner held a press-conference. He said that he had written the petition for clemency to stop provocations and pressurization towards himself. However, he stressed that he hadn't pleaded guilty. "I wrote what is called not a petition, but a request for clemency. I did it consciously and I will not comment on it any more. The only thing I can say is that I did not plead guilty, although there was an enormous pressure in order to make me do it. The pressure was in the colony, but I cannot speak about the details. I wrote the request to stop the pressure and provocations, which were there. I signed it because at some point I realized that it wasn't about pardon. Quite serious things could happen to me, up to physical destruction ... What was done to my personal life and the lives of my family, is just awful."

Dzmitry Bandarenka told about the prison conditions: "There was no law, there were threats of rape and mutilation. There were attempts to pressurize or recruit me. I said straight out that there were limits which I would not cross, I would just commit suicide ... I had such a decision. I had always articulated it, so it created for me a certain space."

The release of A. Sannikau, and Dz. Bandarenka, was welcomed by the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Vice-President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule, the President of the OSCE, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Gilmore, Special Rapporteur of PACE Committee on Belarus Andres Herkel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland and other European governments, politicians and international organizations, who at the same time urged the authorities to release the remaining political prisoners.

As it follows from Ales Bialiatski's letter, received in the beginning of April, of 29 March Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk granted the lawsuit of Pershamaiski District Tax Inspection of Minsk concerning the exaction of more than 140 million rubles of fine for the untimely payment of the sum of taxes, though the sum which had been paid by the human rights defender in January had already been indexed for inflation, after which it became twice bigger. The civil case was considered by Judge Volha Baham'ya with the participation of the tax officers of Pershamaiski district Sobaleva, Todryk and Kartashova. Neither Bialiatski's colleagues nor his family knew anything about this lawsuit – Bialiatski mailed the court verdict to his wife. The trial took place in the absence of Bialiatski, which was mentioned in the judgment: "The defendant didn't appear at the trial, he is kept in prison and was duly notified about the date and place of the case consideration". Ales Bialiatski's attorney wasn't present at the trial either. The new financial pretensions to the human rights defender created an artificial legal obstacle to the application of all forms of reduction of his prison sentence – parole, amnesty and pardon.

On 19 April it became known that the Nobel committee accepted the candidacy of the Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski for the Peace Prize Award.

On 10 April Vitebsk Region Court started the consideration of the appeal of the activist of the Conservative Christian Party "Belarusian Popular Front" Siarhei Kavalenka. The panel of judges issued a ruling on the appointment of a comprehensive psychiatric examination of S. Kavalenka in the Navinki hospital in Minsk. The consideration of the appeal against the verdict of Pershamaiski District Court of Vitsebsk was suspended until the conclusion of psychiatrists. The court was presented the preliminary opinion of psychiatrists that the convicted person has a mental disorder, one of manifestations of which was the rejection of food. The examination was to determine whether S. Kavalenka suffered from mental illness at the time of committing a criminal offense and whether he could comprehend his actions; whether he was still suffering from a mental illness, whether forced treatment was required and whether he had individual peculiarities of psychical state. As it became known on 13 April, in Navinki the political prisoner stopped the hunger-strike he had been keeping since December 2011.

On 10 April Maskouski District Court of Minsk established preventive supervision over the former political prisoner Pavel Vinahradau for a period of 2 years. He is forbidden to leave Minsk without permission from the police, must stay home from 20 p.m. to 8 a.m. and report to the criminal-executive inspection at the place of residence four times a month. The preventive supervision was established in connection with the fact that Pavel Vinahradau has been detained and sentenced several times this year, allegedly for using foul language in public. Police officers considered it as a sufficient reason for strengthening oversight of the former political prisoner.

On 19 April Pershamaiski District Department of the Investigative Committee in Minsk informed the former political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou that a criminal case was brought against him for violating the conditions of preventive supervision, established by Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk on 5 January 2012 for a term of one year. The reason for the preventive supervision was that V. Parfiankou took part in the action of solidarity with political prisoners on 19 December 2011 and was sentenced to 12 days of arrest for it.

On 26 April the administration of the open penitentiary institution in the village of Kuplin in Pruzhany district denied parole to political prisoner Pavel Seviarynets. The decision was made on recommendation of the so-called Council of educators, which consists of representatives of the administration and the heads of the collective farms where convicts work. The decision was made despite a positive response, due to the fact that the convicted person did not admit his guilt and repent.

On 26 April the administration of Ivatsevichy colony # 22 informed political prisoner Aliaksandr Frantskevich that he was denied a meeting which was assigned on 4 May. His mother was not informed about the reasons for the denial. A long-term (three-day) meeting with relatives is provided pursuant to the Criminal Executive Code, and may be revoked for violations of the prison regime, but Frantskevich didn't have such violations.


Death penalty

On 5 April Liubou Kavaliova and Tatsiana Kaziar, mother and sister of executed death convict Uladzislau Kavaliou, received information from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This information was sent by representatives of the Government of Belarus to the UN office in Geneva on 15 March 2012 – the same day, when Uladzislau Kavaliou was shot. Representatives of Belarus informed the Human Rights Committee that a supervisory appeal was filed to the Supreme Court by Kavaliou and the president was considering his request for clemency, and the execution would be suspended until their consideration.

On 11 April, former chairman of the Constitutional Court and the Prosecutor General of Belarus Ryhor Vasilevich said in an interview to the European Radio For Belarus that the death penalty can be abolished without a referendum: "From the formal and legal standpoint, of course, this issue can be resolved without the referendum. The decision of the referendum (24 November 1996) was of a consultative nature. Actually, another decision can be taken. But the president and the parliament – they represent the people. And the opinion of citizens for them is important, which affects their decisions. One can understand them – 80% of the votes! But if we pay not attention to it, then the issue can be resolved by modifying the Criminal Code. Solutions to this problem can be very different. Perhaps a moratorium can be introduced."

On 30 April Uladzislau Kavaliou's mother Liubou Kavaliova filed a complaint with the head of the KGB jail, demanding the return of the written notes, made by her son during the trial. After the execution she had received a parcel from the KGB prison with her son's belongings. However, the writings of Uladzislau Kavaliou disappeared. The mother thinks that the investigation and the court which sentenced her son to death weren't objective and the yellow folder could contain some information which the KGB prison was reluctant to disclose.


Enforced disappearances

On 27 April the widow of the missing journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, Sviatlana Zavadskaya,

received an answer to her appeal to the Council of Ministers which contained a proposal for the accession of the Republic of Belarus to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the view that there is no need for Belarus to join the Convention because its provisions are implemented in the legislation of the Republic of Belarus – kidnapping of people falls into the category of crimes against humanity, and provides for criminal liability, and inadmissibility of the exemption from liability or punishment in connection with the lapse of time. Foreign Minister also noted that the criminal law of Belarus and its application is also based on a strict storage safeguards against kidnapping of the people which results in their disappearance. The answer signed by the Deputy Minister Hur'yanau.

However, the articles of the Criminal Code mentioned in the answer provide punishment for kidnapping, not for enforced disappearance. According to the definition of the Convention, enforced disappearance – always results from actions of the authorities or other individuals, supported by them.


Torture and cruel treatment

On 7 April, "Young Front" activists Dzmitry Kramianetski and Mikhail Muski were detained in Minsk metro station "Kupalauskaya" for posting stickers "Freedom to Dashkevich". The arrest and detention of the activists were accompanied by beatings and humiliation.

Kramianetski: "The police hid their badges so that we could not see who detained us, and said that we used foul language. Mikhail asked to go to the toilet. Instead, he was handcuffed to a radiator and beaten. Somewhat later they handcuffed me as well, and started beating. We lied on the floor for about three hours."

Muski: "Dzmitry was beaten unconscious, but they didn't even call an ambulance".

Kramianetski: "The duty policemen at the detention center on Akrestsin Street threatened us with physical violence. He said: You will be kept here, but you won't feel well. It was captain Yesmantovich."

At the trial on 9 April both "Young Front "activists solicited for medical assistance. D. Kramianetski was taken away to hospital because of a high blood pressure. However, soon he was returned to the court. The court ignored the state of the defendants' health. Judge Maryna Zapasnik sentenced Mikhail Muski to 10 days of arrest for disorderly conduct, and Judge Mikhail Homa issued the same penalty to Dzmitry Kramianetski.


Politically motivated restrictions on freedom of movement

On 28 March the General Prosecutor's Office informed the Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich, who was restricted from traveling outside of Belarus, that his complaint was forwarded to the Ministry of Defense. On 12 April Partyzanski District Police Department of Minsk re-directed his complaint again. Bear in mind that the reason for the foreign travel restrictions towards Stefanovich were that he allegedly evaded from call-up to military service. However, the human rights activist is 12 years older than the maximum draft age and passed military service in 1990-92. At the same time, Partyzanski District Military Enlistment Office in Minsk denied having taking any decisions on imposing foreign travel restrictions towards Stefanovich.

A questioning concerning the appeal of the head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak against foreign travel restrictions was to have taken place on 6 April, within the limits of preparation to the trial. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were defendants in the case. However, on 4 April Aleh Hulak received a telephone call from the secretary of Tsentralny District Court of Minsk. The secretary stated that the judge who was to have considered the case was unable to attend the sitting of 6 April because she needed to receive citizens. The date of the sitting was postponed indefinitely. Aleh Hulak states that he hadn't ever met such postponements in his practice. Analogical
message was received by the BHC lawyer Hary Pahaniaila. The Preliminary hearing on his case was to have taken place on 18 April.

On 11 April,
former political prisoner Aliaksandr Atroshchankau was set down the train on the way to Lithuania. As he was told in the Citizenship and Migration Board, he was restricted to travel abroad according to the verdict of the court of Orsha and the Orsha district of 29 March 2012, when Atroshchankau and other leaders of the Belarusian opposition were fined for alleged disorderly conduct in a train. However, the judge hadn't issued any foreign travel restrictions during the trial and Atroshchankau didn't receive any information about the restriction of his right to travel, as demanded by the law. He appealed against the court verdict, and it couldn't enter into legal force until the consideration of his appeal. Even after the entry of the verdict into force some time would pass before the start of enforcement proceedings and the decision on forced exaction of the fine in case of non-payment. Thus, there were no legal grounds for imposing restrictions on A. Atroshchankau.


Administrative prosecution of social and political activists, arbitrary detentions

On 12 April, Leninski District Court of Minsk fined
the activists of the "Young Front" Nasta Shuleika and Yury Khodusau. The activists were detained on 11 April near the entrance of the subway station "Aktsiabrskaya", where the solemn opening of the memorial sign "River of Memory", dated to the first anniversary of the terrorist act, was taking place. The "Young Front" activists were found guilty under Article 17.1, "disorderly conduct". Judge Maryna Zapasnik fined Nasta Shuleika 20 basic units, and Judge Mikhail Khoma fined Yury Khodus 15 basic units.

On 12 April, activists of the civil campaign "Tell the Truth!" Andrei Dzmitryieu, Yury Hanchar and Mikhail Pashkevich were detained together with a local defender of the interests of owners of summer residences Vasil Kazlouski. The detainees were guarded to Smaliavichy District Police Department right from an assembly of the owners of summer residentces. A. Dzmitryieu and M. Pashkevich received writs to come to Smaliavichy DPD again. Later they received charges of violation of the rules of holding mass events in connection with their participation on the assembly of summer residents on 10 March.

On 19 April, Maskouski District Court of Minsk fined Krystsina Kuleika and Marharyta Lavyshyk, detained short before, 15 basic units under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code ("disorderly conduct"). The case of M. Lavyshyk was considered by Judge Tatsiana Motyl and the case of K. Kuleika – by Judge Jury Sezen. Marharyta Lavyshyk was the girl-friend of the coordinator of the campaign "Revolution through Social Networks" Viachaslau Dziyanau. The detention took place while she was talking with him over Skype. The detained girls were taken to the delinquents' isolation center on Akrestsin Street. According to representatives of "Revolution through Social Networks", the girls didn't participate in its activities.

On 20 April the activist of the "Young Front" Nasta Shuleika was detained near the shop next to her house. She was charged with disorderly conduct. On 21 April Judge of the Maskouski District Court of Minsk Tatsiana Motyl sentenced her to 10 days of arrest.


On 22 April Hrodna human rights defenders Uladzimir Khilmanovich and Viktar Sazonau were detained by customs officers at the
border crossing "Pryvalka." One of the customs officers saw human rights editions in a bag, after which the car by which the activists were driving, was taken away to a special place and fenced. It's steering wheel and wheels were locked. In addition, it was guarded by a border guard with a dog. The customs officers conducted a personal examination of Khilmanovich and Sazonau. All this lasted for about 5 hours. The customs officers composed a report of confiscation of the books "Our Viasna" and photo albums dedicated to political prisoners and events which had taken place on Nezalezhnasts Square on 19 December. 2012. Two DVDs with the documentary "Cause of Death Left Blank" were confiscated as well.

In the evening of 23 April an activist of "Revolution thought Social Networks" Siarhei Biaspalau was subject to personal examination while crossing the Belarusian border by the train Terespol-Brest. As a result of the examination his laptop was confiscated (a confiscation report was drawn up). After this the activist was let go.

At 11 p.m. on 25 April "Young Front" activist Dzmitry Stankevich was detained by police at the entrance of the metro station "Institut Kultury", who had a streamer, prepared especially for the "Chernobyl Way" rally. On 26 April Maskouski District Court of Minsk sentenced him to 3 days of arrest under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code, "disorderly conduct".


On 26 April the activists of "Tell the Truth" Aliaksandr Akhmach and Marat Nestisarenka were detained for almost three hours for handing out leaflets dedicated to an anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and the planned construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus. At first the detainees were guarded to the Brest District Court, and then – to Leninski District Police Department in Brest, where a report of confiscation of the remaining leaflets was drawn up. The policemen explained that the leaflets would be directed for expertise, after which it would be decided whether there was an administrative corpus delicti in the actions of Akhmach and Nestiarenka. The activists spent almost three hours in detention.

On 26 April Ihar Simbirou, a civil activist from Asipovichy, was detained at the railway station in Minsk where he came to take part in "Chernobyl Way". He was detained by police major Aliaksei Karobka and a police officer whose surname was Zakhvitsevich. He was taken to Kastrychnitski District Police Department with the use of physical force, where a report under Article 17.1 was drawn up against him. The same day Natallia Pratasavitskaya, Judge of the Kastrychnitski District Court of Minsk, sentenced him to 10 days of arrest. The trial lasted for just 10 minutes.

On 25 April Savetski District Court in Minsk considered the case of former political prisoner, activist of "Tell the Truth!" Pavel Vinahradau, detained at Maskouski district criminal-executive inspection in Minsk and charged under Article 17.1. He solicited for postponement of the trial so that his lawyer could take part in it. Judge Dzmitry Pauliuchenka granted the petition and postponed the hearing to the following day. On 26 April the activist was sentenced to 5 days of arrest.

On 26 April Valiantsina Dvarakova was detained during the "Chernobyl Way" rally. She was charged under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events). The girl was "guilty" of greeting the demonstrators with a white-red-white flag. At first the police came to her flat. Then the girl was guarded to the police department where she was fingerprinted. Even formal traits of corpus delicti of an administrative offense are absent in the actions of Valiantsina Dvarakova.

On 27 April, Savetski District Court of Minsk held the trials of activists of "Young Front" Mikalai Dzemidzenka, Mikhail Muski and Raman Vasilyeu, as well as Aliaksei Churylau and Dzmitry Shauliukevich, detained after the end of "Chernobyl Way" rally on 26 April and charged under Article 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, "disorderly conduct". Dzmitry Kramianetski and Uladzimir Yaromenak were detained near the court and given the same charges. Judge Aksana Reliava sentenced Aliaksei Churylau and Dzmitry Shauliukevich to 10 days of arrest and Mikhail Muski – to 15 days; Judge Dzmitry Pauliuchenka sentenced Mikalai Dzemidzenka to 15 days of arrest. Raman Vasilyeu and Uladzimir Yaromenak were sentenced to 15 and 7 days of arrest respectively. The trial of Dzmitry Kramianetski took place on 28 April. Judge Dzmitry Pauliuchenka sentenced him to 7 days of arrest.

On 30 April 19 people were detained by riot police at the premises of the "Free Theater" in Minsk, where the view of the film "Europe's last dictator" was organized. All of them were guarded to Savetski District Police Department of Minsk, where they were kept for almost two hours. Police officer Tsyrko insulted the under-aged Tatsiana Karnevich and Yuliya Kalodkina during interrogation. Several files were deleted from the laptop of Viktoryia Kolchyna and the password was changed, after which it was returned to the owner. A memory flash card disappeared from the camera of journalist Krauchuk.


Restrictions on freedom of speech and the right to impart information, persecution of journalists

On 12 April Aksana Ratnikava, Judge of the Leninski District Court of Mahiliou, fined the activist of the Belarusian Popular Front Siarzhuk Niahatsin 30 basic units for distribution of the small-circulation newspaper "Tut i Tsiaper". She stated that Niahatsin needed to conclude a special distribution agreement with the newspaper's editorial board. However, there is no need to conclude such agreements with the editorial boards of the periodicals whose circulation is less than 300 copies – such editions can operate without the state registration.

On 20 April in Vitsebsk the police detained the distributor of the newspaper "Nash Dom Info" Siarhei Soupel near house #37 in Chkalau Street. He was guarded to Pershamaiski District Police Department and kept there for more than three hours. The activist was charged with violation of part 2 of Article 29.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, "illegal distribution of printed media in Belarus."

On 25 April police officers tried to prevent Russian journalists from meeting with the mother of the executed death convict Uladzislau Kavaliou. They intended to come to her apartment. Liubou Kavaliova was proposed to give an interview for the TV program "Man and Law". But once the crew got out of the taxi, they were confronted by riot police. Liubou Kavaliova saw it from her window and went out to "liberate" her guests. The journalists let go, but their passport data were put down.

On 27 April the police detained the local activists of the BPF Party and the movement "For Freedom" Siarhei Trafimchyk and Vitold Ashurka. The detainees were taken to the police station where 800 copies of the officially registered newspaper "Novy chas" were confiscated from them. A confiscation report was drawn up. On 28 April policemen came to Siarhei Trafimchyk's apartment with a warrant for its examination. Mr. Trafimchyk was absent from home at that time. No printing equipment was found as a result.


Restrictions on freedom of assembly

On 2 April Homel human rights defenders Anatol Paplauny and Leanid Sudalenka received information from the UN Human Rights Committee concerning the registration of their joint complaint against the refusal of the Homel City Executive Committee to authorize a picket dated to the Day of Human Rights in 2010. All appeals against the refusal at the national level gave no results: the district court took the side of the executive committee, the regional court and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the district court.

As it became known on 6 April, Minsk City Executive Committee refused to authorize a picket of gay activists "Day of silence: we keep silent to be heard", planned on 9 April. The applicants wanted to hold their action on the territory adjacent to houses #8 and #10 in Mayakouski Street, at the distance of more than 50 meters from stops of the public transport. According to the answer of the Minsk City Executive Committee, the reason for the refusal was the creation of obstacles to the movement of pedestrians and traffic along Mayakouski Street and the functioning of the organizations whose offices were located near the action site.

On 9 April civil activist Ryhor Hryk received a letter, signed by the head of Baranavichy City Executive Committee Dz. Kastsiukevich, concerning the prohibition of the picket which he planned to hold on in the old city park on 15 April on order to express moral support to dissidents and people convicted in connection with post-election protests on 19 December 2010.

On 17 April Homel activist Zinaida Shumilina received information from the UN Human Rights Committee confirming the registration of her complaint concerning the prohibition of the series of pickets she intended to hold on 23 February 2011 to support the convicted presidential candidates and members of their electoral headquarters. The city authorities didn't authorize any of the 16 pickets. The district court sided with the executive committee. The regional and the Supreme Court upheld the verdicts of the district court. This was the129th complaint of Belarusian citizens, registered by this influential international institution.

On 23 April police officers started paying visits to organizers of a picket dated to the anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy. The activists intended to hold the action in Zhyliber Park in Hrodna on 26 April. The police officers warned the organizers about administrative liability for holding unauthorized mass events, though the activists hadn’t received an official ban from the authorities. The application for the authorization of the picket was signed by the head of Hrodna city organization of the United Civil Party Aliaksandra Vasilevich and the head of Kastrychnitski district UCP organization, Dzmitry Audzeichyk.

Slonim District Executive Committee twice prohibited members of Slonim democratic society to hold a picket dedicated to the Chernobyl accident on 26 April.

On 23 April Vitsebsk prohibitions to hold three pickets on the anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy were received by a member of the Conservative-Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front, Vitsebsk resident Yan Dziarzhautsau, from district executive committees of Vitsebsk.

On 26 April the traditional action of the democratic opposition "Chernobyl Way" was held in Minsk. The mass event was authorized by Minsk City Executive Committee in the form of a meeting and a procession. Despite the peaceful nature of the action, some demonstrators started snatching out rainbow flags from LGBT activists. This was a local clash, which wasn't noticed by the majority of the action participants. HRC "Viasna" called participants of mass events to refrain from any violent actions.

On 26 April a rally against the killing of animals was banned in Brest. The organizers of the event intended to hand out leaflets in support of the action against the killing of homeless animals " Fair Play" which is going on in neighboring Ukraine. Brest animal welfare advocates decided to support this action by distributing leaflets in Pushkinskaya Street in the center of Brest on 28 April. However, the deputy head of Brest City Executive Committee Viachaslau Khafizau didn't authorize the action.

On 27 April the head of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union Mikalai Zimin and the head of the trade union organization at the "Granite" enterprise in Mikashevichy, Aleh Stakhayevich, received a ban on holding the May Day action in Mikashevichy, whose aim was to express support to activists of the independent trade union at "Granite". The official reason for the ban is that some sports contests were to take place at the action site at the specified time.

On 30 April, Orsha city organization of the Belarusian Leftist Party "Fair World" received waivers to hold two mass rallies on 1 May against rising prices and worsening socio-economic status of citizens. The organizers intended to hold pickets in the places which were officially determined for such actions by the executive committee.

May Day rally was not authorized in Brest either. On 27 April an appropriate decision of the city authorities was received by the head of Hanna Kanius, the head of Brest city organization of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and Liudmila Dzenisenka, the head of the "Fair World". The authorities explained the ban by the fact that the route of the action included places which were less than 50 meters away from administrative buildings.

 

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