Two pickets dated to Human Rights Day banned in Vitsebsk
The formal reason is usual, the absence of the contracts for serving the events. The activists tried to enter into the needed service agreements with the appropriate agencies two months before the planned action, but the city's polyclinic and the regional police department refused to do it.
The ban on one of the pickets was sent to the Kastrychnitski District Executive Committee of Vitsebsk by the chairman of the Vitsebsk city branch of the party “Belarusian Popular Front” Aliaksandr Kuzniatsou, who intended to hold his action in order to protest against political repression in the country, express solidarity with political prisoners and demand their immediate release and full rehabilitation.
The coordinator of the Movement "For Freedom" in the Vitsebsk region Khrystafor Zhaliapau and an activist of the organizing committee of the Social Democratic Party "Narodnaya Hramada" Aliaksei Haurutsikau applied to the Pershamaiski District Executive Committee of Vitsebsk for permission to hold a picket on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, two months before the date of the action:
"We filed the application together with the letters with the proposal to enter into contracts, addressed to the police, the city polyclinic and the communal utilities. The latter institution always signs contracts without any problems, unlike the other two. That's why we applied in advance to have time to bring to justice those responsible, if they refuse to serve the picket. We had to wait for a reply from the Pershamaiski District Executive Committee for a month instead of 15 days. The reason for the denial is expected: there are no service contracts. Then we received a letter from the police – they stated that it was inappropriate to enter into a service contract, since the action had been banned already. Meanwhile, as it is stated in the Ruling of the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee No. 881, the medics and the police shall serve mass events and the service agreements with them shall be concluded in advance. The regional police department, as usual, ignores this document. However, one cannot reproach them for it, as they obey the law on mass events, not the invention of local officials."
The central city polyclinic also refused to enter into a service contract, referring to the heavy load on the medics due to the mass illness in the winter time.
The activists decided to appeal against this decision to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Vitsebsk Regional Department of Health. The Ministry of Interior still hasn't given any answer, whereas the health department wrote that the administration of the polyclinic had the right to enter into service contracts or refuse to do it without any explanations.
"It turns out that the execution of the ruling of the executive committee about the organization of mass events conerns only citizens, whereas state institutions can ignore it, including the ones which are directly mentioned in this document. Thus, it is impossible to exercise one's right to hold mass events, as the authorities created obstacles for it by adopting an unfulfillable ruling," commented Mr. Zhaliapau.
Though about a hundred applications for mass events have been filed to the Vitsebsk authorities since the adoption of the Ruling No. 881 by the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee (almost four years ago), not a single mass event has been authorized.