Picks of the week
The organizers of this year’s Freedom Day demonstration in Minsk will have to pay over 8,000 rubles (around $4,000) to the city police department as a charge for policing the event, Maskoŭski District Court ruled on August 1.
Earlier, opposition activists Yury Hubarevich, Volha Kavalkova, Mikalai Kazlou, and Ihar Barysau refused to pay, saying that they were overcharged, as the contract mentioned a different cost.
The assembly took place on March 25 and was attended by some 1.5 thousand people.
Viasna activists have written to Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, to inform the expert about numerous cases of illegal use of anti-extremist legislation in Belarus and the prosecution of citizens for the publication of content which, according to the authorities, may lead to the incitement of racial, national or other hatred and enmity.
“In recent years, human rights activists are increasingly documenting cases of illegal use of anti-extremist legislation by unreasonably prosecuting people for the distribution of blacklisted extremist content, including reposting such publications and images on social networks. In some cases, the situation has been brought to the point of absurdity, when the authors were brought to administrative responsibility for the public display of Nazi symbols in anti-Nazi cartoons. Thus, the anti-extremist legislation has been used by the authorities to suppress dissent and restrict freedom of expression, which is unacceptable,” they said.
The human rights defenders have repeatedly criticized the definition of extremism in the national legislation, the procedure of formation and activities of the commissions entrusted with the function of legal examination of online content, the state of civil procedural law, as well as legislation regulating Internet activity.
This year’s parliamentary elections should be held on November 17, Lidziya Yarmoshyna, chair of the Central Election Commission, said during a meeting with President Aliaksandr Lukashenka on July 30.
Earlier, Lukashenka suggested that the vote should be organized on November 7, October Revolution Day, which is a public holiday in Belarus.
The exact date is expected to be announced next week.