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Open letter to the Belarusian authorities

2008 2008-03-28T16:43:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

To :

Alexander Lukashenko,

President of the Republic of Belarus


Leonid Maltzev,

Defense Minister of the Republic of Belarus


Grigory Vasilevich

Chief Prosecutor  of the Republic of Belarus


Valentin Sukalo

Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus



Paris-Minsk, 26 March 2008



Open letter to the Belarusian authorities



The Human Rights Center “Viasna” and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) were informed that on 27 March 2008 a trial starts against the youth activist Ekaterina Solovyeva in the Polozk City court. On 28 December 2007, Ekaterina Solovyeva was suspected of “organising activities for an unregistered association” (art. 193.1 of the Penal Code) and of participating in the youth organisation, “Youth Front”.


According to the information received, Ekaterina Solovyeva, a 20 year-old youth activist from Lepel (Vitebsk region), was constantly harassed during the last few months. She was suspended twice from her second-year studies at the Department of History and Philology of the Polozk University. She was first suspended in December 2007 because of her civil activities but in response to public pressure, was allowed to return to classes. On 23 January, 2008 she was suspended from the University on the basis of “poor academic results” (although she was not allowed to pass any of the winter exams).


Mrs. Solovyeva is also subjected to judicial harassment. The room in the student house where she lived has been searched several times. Ekaterina Solovyeva has received administrative punishment twice before. First, on 10 September, 2007 ostensibly because she participated in a solidarity action with Yaroslav Grischenia, a youth activist who was accused, under article 193.1 of the Penal Code, of participating in Youth Front activities and was on trial at that time. On 26 Novemebr 2007 Ekaterina Solovyeva was detained on suspicion of writing graffiti on the wall of the Polozk city administration, saying “One can’t stop the Youth Front!”. She was interrogated on charges of “insult to national symbols” (art. 370 of the Penal Code, this charge was later dropped). Both times she was condemned to pay a fine; the second time it was over 500 US dollars.


The case of Ekaterina Solovyeva illustrates a context of growing repression against the civil society. FIDH and Viasna strongly condemn the persecution of civil activists by the Belarusian authorities The mechanisms of repression involve the education services, which should be independent of all political spheres.


We demand that the University of Polatsak restore Solovyeva’s student status and henceforth not interrupt the course of her education in any manner. The aforementioned actions seem exclusively aimed at sanctioning her civic activities. We demand that the Belarusian and Polozk authorities guarantee a fair and independent trial for Mrs. Solovyeva, as well as her physical and psychological integrity under all circumstances. More generally, FIDH and Viasna demand that an end be put to all acts of harassment against all civil and human rights activists in Belarus, and that in all circumstances they be allowed to pursue their education and work without unjustified hindrance.


More generally, FIDH and Viasna urge you to ensure, under all circumstances, the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution of Belarus and the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Republic of Belarus.


Souhayr Belhassen

President of FIDH, France



Vice-President of FIDH,

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