Reply to Vitsebsk opposition activists: decision on mass events to remain unchanged
Khrystafor Zhaliapau, coordinator of the Movement "For Freedom" in the Vitsebsk region, received a response to a joint letter from the deputy chairman of the regional executive committee A. Dziulin. More than 40 local residents asked the city executive authorities to reverse their decision on restrictions on holding street protest. The answer of the executive committee officials is negative.
For more than three years, Vitsebsk opposition activists have been trying to get permission to hold public events, but the district administrations would not give such permits. They refer to the decision of the Vitsebsk regional executive committee, which simply cannot be implemented by the applicants of the protests.
According to the activists, the decision of 10 July, 2009 runs counter to the Belarusian legislation, as it does not allow citizens to exercise their right to public expression. In particular, according to the decision of the city authorities, the organizers must submit to the district administration (along with the application) copies of contracts for maintenance of the events. However, the authorities in charge of providing the services refuse to enter into agreements with the activists for various reasons. In a couple of instances, the applicants were directly told that they would not get their contracts until there was no positive decision of the district administrations. Therefore, the activists collected signatures under a collective petition to the regional executive committee, urging the authority to contribute to amending the decision of the city executive committee.
In addition, on July 24, representatives of several civil society and political organizations were received by the deputy chairman of the executive committee Uladzimir Tsiarentsyeu. Khrystafor Zhaliapau was one of the activists received by Mr. Tsiarentsyeu. After the meeting, he was rather optimistic,
“Mr. Tsiarentsyeu was prepared for the conversation: in his office there were all the three district ideology officials of those district administrations that have not issued a single permission in three years to allow the events we proposed. Deputy chairman of the executive committee listened to us and promised to look into the problem thoroughly. Mr. Tsiarentsyeu promised to give us a written response.”
But the answer came with the signature of another deputy chairman of the executive committee, A. Dziulina. It says that all the earlier bans were issued legally, and that the decision of executive committee was also completely legitimate.
The wording is known to the activists. Local officials previously told them about the impossibility of amending the decision of the city authorities. They say that it has passed through a legal examination, so it is flawless, and no changes are required. Vitsebsk activists tried to assert their rights even through the courts, attempting to force the conclusion of contracts by those who refused to do so. But it did not help. The judges also referred to the decision of the Vitsebsk city executive committee, locking the applicants in a vicious circle.