4 pickets banned in Polatsk and Vitsebsk
All these events were banned by local authorities due to the fact that the organizers did not submit contracts with doctors, police and public utilities.
The law on mass events does not provide for an additional responsibility of the organizers to negotiate and pay for the services financed from the state budget. The Polatsk-based enterprise Polatsk-Shklovalakno allocates a lot of money to the budget. However, the workers of this enterprise were banned on 12 February to hold pickets in order to campaign for suspending President’s decree No. 5. The employees of the state-owned company were particularly outraged by a provision allowing their employer to apply a new measure of disciplinary sanction – deprivation of bonuses for up to twelve months.
Mikalai Sharakh, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Free Trade Union’s office at the company, is convinced that the additional remuneration for the services during mass events is nonsense. Ambulance and police arrive if necessary, and a clean-up can be arranged by the organizers themselves.
“So we consider the restriction of the workers’ right to express their opinion regarding the Decree a violation of the law, unjustified restriction of workers’ rights. Such a decision the executive committee makes the workers’ right to peaceful assembly illusory,” says the trade union activist.
Three more pickets, which were prepared by Vitsebsk members of the CCP BPF, were banned by the city authorities. Applications for the pickets (one in each of the three regional administrations) were submitted by five party members, and all the pickets were to be held at various times on 10 February. The organizers were going to raise the issues associated with Belarus’ membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. According to activists of the CCP BPF, it can result in the loss of state sovereignty, lead to further destruction of the Belarusian language, history and culture.
In addition to applications for pickets, the activists filed in the district administrations a copy of applications to head of the Vitsebsk city housing and communal service, the Department of Internal Affairs of the Vitsebsk Regional Executive Committee and the Vitsebsk city clinic. The mentioned bodies specified in the decision of the city authorities on the organization and holding of mass events: the applicants must enter into contracts with them.
However, the activists only managed to conclude an agreement with the public utilities. The police department said that they were ready to maintain order during the pickets, but only if the authorities gave permission for their conduct. Chief doctor of the city clinic Stanislau Tsitovich flatly refused to cooperate, writing that coordinating ambulance crews at the date of the scheduled activities was not possible, therefore it was not possible to sign the contract, either.
Citing absence of contracts, the district authorities banned the events, added another reason: last year one of the applicants, Yan Dziarzhautsau, was brought to administrative responsibility for violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events. Therefore, they say, he cannot be the applicant of a mass event. This approach was a surprise for the activist, as over the last 12 months, he has filed numerous applications for mass events, but such explanations were never mentioned before.
Besides, Yan Dziarzhautsau is outraged that the administration of the Pershamaiski district replied in Russian, although the application was filed in the Belarusian language. This is a violation of the Law on petitions of citizens and legal entities, and the activist has prepared a complaint to the prosecutor and the regional executive committee.