Vitsebsk authorities ban pickets in support of Ales Bialiatski
Vitsebsk executive authorities banned four pickets of solidarity with the imprisoned Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski expected to be held by local human rights defenders Pavel Levinau and Leanid Svetsik. The pickets were scheduled for August 4.
Pavel Levinau, a representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee in Vitsebsk and Vitsebsk region, filed three applications in various district administrations of the city. Another bid was sent to the administration of Kastrychnitski district by local human rights activist Leanid Svetsik. All the four pickets were banned on the grounds that the applicants failed to sign maintenance agreements, as required by the city executive committee’s decision.
The decision of July 10, 2009 runs counter to the Belarusian legislation, as it does not allow citizens to exercise their right to public expression, say the human rights activists. Thus, according to this decision, the organizers must submit (along with the application) to the district administration the copies of contracts for maintenance activities. However, the responsible authorities refuse to enter into agreements with the activists for various reasons. In a couple of instances, the authorities directly said that they would not sign any contracts until there are no positive decisions from the district administrations.
Vitsebsk activists have been trying to amend the restrictions for many years. As yet, not a single street event has been allowed in Vitsebsk over the past three years.