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Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in July 2013

2013 2013-08-16T14:23:00+0300 2013-09-12T15:37:51+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

In July, the tendency to deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus persisted. 12 political prisoners were still kept behind bars: Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Autukhovich, Ales Bialiatski, Dzmitry Dashkevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Andrei Haidukou, Eduard Lobau, Artsiom Prakapenka, Pavel Seviarynets, Mikalai Statkevich and Yauhen Vaskovich. Dzmitry Miadzvedz and Sviataslau Baranovich continued serving their terms of personal restraint without sending to open penitentiaries, and Andrei Pachobut – his suspended sentence. In June a criminal case was brought against the former political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou for breach of the rules of preventive supervision, and in July a similar criminal case was brought against Uladzimir Yaromenak. Preventive supervision as a means of control and pressure continued to be used against the former political prisoner Pavel Vinahradau. Prophylactic supervision was used towards 25 pardoned and released ahead of schedule. The investigation into the criminal case under Article 193.1, “activities on behalf of an unregistered organization”, against Aliaksei Shchadrou continued.

The Human Rights Center "Viasna" does not regard the termination of the criminal prosecution of Iryna Khalip and Uladzimir Niakliayeu after the end of the deferment term as a sign of the improvement of the human rights situation, regarding their punishment as illegal, unfair and politically motivated in its nature.

The Member of the European Parliament Yu. Paletskis had to admit the absence of positive dynamics in the field of human rights in Belarus in his report prepared for the European institutions. If in May during the first reading he spoke of "improving the human rights situation" in Belarus, after serious criticism by the Belarusian experts and MEPs during the second reading in 9 July in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament the wording has been changed. "The notion that the human rights situation changed, was completely reformulated. At present it speaks of a hard human rights situation. At the same time the statistics of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" is cited that the number of those imprisoned for political reasons has decreased. However, it is explained that these numbers are a result of an atmosphere of intimidation and repression," stated Eustace Paleckis. The European MPs recommended to the European Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EU member states to urge the Belarusian authorities to respect human rights and move towards democratic reforms to end the country's self-imposed isolation from Europe. In the opinion of the European Parliament, the EU should also make clear once again: a prerequisite for any progress that could lead to the lifting of sanctions and the development of bilateral relations is the unconditional and immediate release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners. As it is stated in the report, the EU must use a temporary suspension of visa sanctions against Belarusian Foreign Minister with the utmost effectiveness as the diplomatic channel of communication, as well as his possible participation in the Eastern Partnership summit, primarily in order to help address the issue of political prisoners.

In furtherance of this strategy, the issue of release of political prisoners in Belarus was discussed at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the EU and the Eastern Partnership, which was held on 22 July in Brussels, with the participation of the Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei. Immediately after the meeting Mr. Makei said: "We discussed all the items that were on the agenda relating to our cooperation with the European Union”.

According to the Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius, Belarusian Minister has demonstrated a desire to "work constructively" with the EU. "In contrast to what it was before, there were no objections – maybe he just kept silent at this point , but it's better than objecting when when most of the speakers recalled the issue of political prisoners," said the head of the Lithuanian diplomacy.

After a meeting with Uladzimir Makei, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood expressed hope that the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs could bring positive results for the political prisoners in Belarus, and soon in Brussels, he would meet with Ales Bialiatski: "Now it became possible to communicate with the authorities on this level, which is not something that would allow us to forget about our requirements and conditions, but may actually increase them”.

However, by the end of July the optimism of the European policy makers and the made ​​advances to the official Belarusian side yielded no results.

In the situation when the Belarusian authorities ignore the mandate of the special rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, which was extended by the UN Human Rights Council in June of this year, and the refusals to invite him in the country, an important event for the international assessment of the situation was a consultation of Miklos Haraszti with representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, held in Vilnius on 12-13 July. Miklos Haraszti once again appealed to the Belarusian authorities for a visa, as he considers it necessary to come to Belarus in order to study the situation of human rights, and believes that the dialogue with the Belarusian authorities can be a very important tool to improve the human rights situation. However, he received no response to his appeal. During the consultations in Vilnius much attention was paid to the Belarusian legislation, falling short of international standards and practices which leads to negative consequences in various fields of human rights.

Political prisoners, criminal prosecution of activists

On 2 July Mikalai Statkevich was allowed a short two-hour meeting with his wife Maryna Adamovich in the Mahiliou prison No. 4 – through the bars, a double window and a telephone. On 12 July the political prisoner was allowed to call his wife from prison. He said that after a long struggle he was allowed to make one phone call a month. On 16 July Maryna Adamovich said that in the letter Statkevich wrote that his previous letter hadn't been just confiscated – it was then sent to the Regional Prosecutor's Office together with his testimony on the situation in Shklou penitentiary, which he described in the letter.

On 5 July the mother of the imprisoned anarchist Aliaksandr Frantskevich stated that police supervision will be established over him after his release, scheduled for the beginning of September. In August a trial will take place in the penitentiary to determine the type and the term of supervision. On 29 July Tatsiana Frantskevich noted that not all letters could be received from her son, as the prison censor went on vacation.

On 9 July Andrei Haidukou's counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Vitsebsk Regional Court. According to his mother, Andrei will be kept in the Vitsebsk remand prison till the end of July.

On 10 July the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk rejected of the former candidate for presidency in Belarus, the leader of the "Tell the truth!" Uladzimir Niakliayeu to hold a criminal investigation into the attack on him on 19 December 2010. The court session was held under the chairmanship of Valery Yesman. U. Niakliayeu asked to cancel the decision to refuse from prosecution, signed by the Minsk prosecutor Yermakou, and oblige the investigation authorities "to start a criminal investigation into the gang assault".

The ex-presidential candidate stated that he considered the attack on him on 19 December "as an assassination attempt”. The representative of the defendant, prosecutor Babchonak said he did not agree with Niakliayeu. He justified the refusal to institute criminal proceedings by saying that according to the information received from the MIA and KGB, special units of these structures did not conduct any activities against Mr. Niakliayeu and his supporters on 19 December 2010. The court found these arguments justified. On 25 July the Leninski District Court of Minsk released Uladzimir Niakliayeu, sentenced to two years of imprisonment with a two-year deferment of the sentence, from punishment. The ex-presidential candidate was found guilty under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of activities that breach public order or active participation in them). The trial over V. Niakliayeu took just 40 seconds. He was familiarized with the ruling in the office of Judge Volha Kotsur.

On 12 July the former political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou was presented charges under Article 421 of the Criminal Code, “violation of the conditions of preventive supervision”, by an investigator of the Pershamaiski District Police Department of Minsk. During the talk with the investigator Mr. Parfiankou noted that under the law bringing of a criminal case requires three violations, whereas he had just two. The investigator said that "two violations already make a system" and the inspector saw this as a reason for legal action. On 17 July V. Parfiankou was familiarized with the case, after which it was sent to the court. The date of the trial wasn't appointed by the end of July. V. Parfiankou faces arrest for six months or imprisonment up to one year. Vasil Parfiankou had been sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment for participation in the peaceful post-election protests in 2010, pardoned and released from prison, after which a preventive supervision was established over him. In 2012 V. Parfiankou was sentenced to six months of arrest for violation of the rules of the preventive supervision.

On 13 July Eduard Lobau met with a Catholic priest, Father Dzmitry from the Slutsk parish, with whom he already met twice in his penitentiary. The meeting was held in the presence of an officer of the Ivatsevichy penitentiary No. 22, where Edward is serving his sentence, and lasted about an hour. In late July, the mother of Eduard Lobau, Maryna Lobava, reported that the investigative committee rejected his appeal against his unlawful interrogation by the KGB during the investigation.

On 14 July, the day of the wedding of the “Young Front” member Uladzimir Yaromenak, he received a telephone call from an investigator of the Pershamaiski DPD of Minsk, who persistently asked him to come to the police department. U. Yaromenak managed to postpone the visit to 16 July. On this day, he was presented the ruling for bringing criminal proceedings under Article 421 of the Criminal Code (violation of preventive supervision), dated 24 May. On 22 July U. Yaromenak studied the case materials together with his counsel. Among the documents there were the police reports registering the violations of the preventive supervision. Only two violations were established by the court, all others were considered as violations only by the police. U. Yaromenak didn't agree with them and his counsel expressed these remarks in the appeal. He also drew attention to the fact that the case had been investigated in the so-called "fast mode" – in just 15 days, though it had been brought in May. The case was then transferred to the prosecutor's office. The investigator took a recognizance not to leave Minsk from Uladzimir Yaromenak.

On 18 July Aliaksandr Shchadrou, against whom a criminal case under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, “activities on behalf of an unregistered organization” was brought, announced his intention to register a charity of missionaries of charity named after Mother Teresa of Calcutta. A few days ago he was visited by an officer of the Shchuchyn DPD who paid interest to the situation of the shelter in the village of Aliaksandrauka not far from Vasilishki. At that time there were 7 disabled who cannot walk on their own. When the criminal case was instigated against Aliaksei Shchadrou, there were 27 people in the shelter which was located in four houses. Seven of them managed to get employed, the rest moved away. During the two years of the existence of the shelter, it helped to 97 people. Aliaksandr Shchadrou filed an appeal to the Shchuchyn district, asking to abolish the ruling for the instigation of the criminal proceedings against him.

On 19 July journalist Iryna Khalip, convicted on 16 May 2011 on charges of participating in group activities that breach public order for the events in Minsk on 19 December 2010, and sentenced to two years of imprisonment suspended for two years, was released from serving her sentence. The verdict was issued by Judge of the Partyzanski District Court of Minsk Ryta Shahrai. The judge read out the materials from the criminal-executive inspection of the Partyzanski District Police Department of Minsk on the conditions of serving of the punishment by Iryna Khalip and the results of the check-ups of the implementation of the rules of the punishment, as well as the petition of the criminal-executive inspection for her release from punishment. Prosecutor Sakalova supported this decision. It was also supported by an officer of the inspection. However, on 30 July the security of the airport “Minsk-2” took away her passport during the registration to the flight Minsk-Warsaw. She was informed that she was in the "KGB lists" and her flight to Poland should be agreed with this institution. The passport was returned to I. Khalip half an hour before the take-off. It's worth noting that after the release from the punishment the police assured Iryna Khalip that all restrictions had been removed from her.

On 20 July the two-year term of conditional imprisonment of Siarhei Martsaleu, on 22 July – of Andrei Dzmitryieu, Aliaksandr Fiaduta, Vital Rymasheuski and Siarhei Vazniak came to an end. All of them were convicted under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organization and preparation of activities that breach public order or active participation in them) for taking part in the protests against the rigged presidential election of 2010.

On 20 July the co-head of the organizing committee of the party "Belarusian Christian Democracy" Pavel Seviarynets, who is serving three years of imprisonment in the open penitentiary in the village of Kuplin in the Pruzhany district received a three-day vacation, during which he visited Vitsebsk, where his parents live. The way there and back took 1.5 days.

On 20 July the leader of the “Young Front”, political prisoner Dzmitry Dashkevich who is serving his sentence in the maximum security penitentiary in Hrodna, turned 32 years old. This is the third birthday in succession he had to meet in jail.

On 24 July the Bialynichy journalist Barys Vyrvich stated that, as he learned from a letter received from Mikalai Autukhovich, not all letters are passed to the Hrodna prison No. 1. The political prisoner wrote that earlier he received an average of 90-95 letters a month, whereas in June he got just 40, though he knows that some people wrote letters to him.

On 24 July the political prisoner Yauhen Vaskovich was placed for 10 days in solitary confinement in the Mahiliou prison No. 4 where he is serving his sentence. This was announced by the executive secretary of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party Dzianis Sadouski, who noted that the reasons were unknown to him. Starting from May 2010, when Ya. Vaskovich was directed to serve his sentence, he spent almost 200 days in a punishment cell. According to Dzianis Sadouski, the prison administration continues pressurizing Mr. Vaskovich, telling him to write a clemency petition, but he flatly refuses to do it.

On 28 July the political prisoner Artsiom Prakapenka turned 23 years old. The day before he was allowed a short-term two-hour meeting with his family. His mother Viyaleta Prakapenka told that he was working during night shifts and turned very thin. His relatives sent him his education certificate, as he was going to acquire the qualification of a mason. The mother asked Artsiom Prakapenka to write a clemency petition, but he refused to talk about it.

Death Penalty

On 4 July the Homel resident Aliaksandr Hrunou, sentenced to death, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the verdict of the Homel Regional Court. Before this the human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka met with Aliaksandr Hrunou's mother to discuss the issue of the depletion of all effective remedies within the country for filing an individual complaint to the Human Rights Committee of the UN.

On 8 July the Belarusian Helsinki Committee passed to the Supreme Court the conclusion of the public examination on the procedure «amicus curiae» in the case of the death convict Ryhor Yuzepchuk. In the international legal practice such activities («amicus curiae», from lat. – "Friend of the Court") is used as a tool to improve the legal system. Such investigations of human rights organizations are not held for the benefit of the procedural side, but as an opportunity to present a neutral view of the authors, with deep respect and recognition of the high authority and independence of the court. The subject of this study was to find the reasons for the withdrawal of the death penalty to R. Yuzepchuk and its replacement with an alternative punishment – life imprisonment.

As it became known on 18 July, the death sentence to Ryhor Yuzepchuk was upheld. The Supreme Court informed the BHC that appeal of R.Yuzepchuk was rejected and the death sentence was upheld. What is interesting in this case is that the murder was committed by R. Yuzepchuk when all three inmates of the Mahiliou prison were under a total control of the prison administration. On request of the BHC the Department of Corrections of Internal Affairs reported that an internal check-up was conducted on this incident, an appropriate reaction to which was paid as a result. .

On 19 July Liubou Kavaliova and Tatsiana Kaziar, the mother and the sister of the death convict
Uladzislau Kavaliou (found guilty of the terrorist attack on the subway in Minsk and executed on 15 March 2012), went to the Kastrychnitski District Court of Minsk to complain about the illegal actions of the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Committee for State Security (KGB). Kavaliou's relatives stated that the refusal to provide information on the burial site of Uladzislau Kavaliou violates international standards, and also paid attention to the violation of the Law "On Applications of Citizens”. They challenged the refusal of the Department of Corrections to provide the details of the place of his burial in the Ministry of the Interior. From there, the complaint was passed to the Department, whose actions they appealed. The other violation is that in the refusal to disclose the burial place the state institutions refer to Part 5, Art.175 of the Criminal Executive Code, which does not meet the requirements of Art . 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture and ill-treatment. The practice not to inform the relatives about the place of burial of death convicts falls under the provisions of this article. Kavalious mother and sister hope to get information about the place of Uladzislau's burial through court.

Torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment

On 24 July, after a year of fruitless appeals to various authorities about her son's death on 26 May 2012 in the detention center of the Svetlahorsk District Police Department as a result of unlawful actions of the police, Valiantsina Akulich applied to the Human Rights Center "Viasna". After consulting lawyers, she filed to the prosecutor of the Svetlahorsk district an appeal against the ruling of the Senior Investigator of the Svetlahorsk regional department of the Investigative Committee Viachaslau Petachenka not to institute criminal proceedings on the death of her son, Aliaksandr Akulich. The son of V. Akulich died on the fourth of the five days for which he was placed in the detention center. Valiantsina Akulich said: "My son was drinking hard, and we wanted to place him in ut it in an activity therapy center so that he would quit drinking. On 22 May I phoned to the local police inspector and asked how he could be placed in the detention center in order to save hum from drinking. He replied: call "102", they will come and take him”. I phoned there and he was taken to the detention center for five days . On the fourth day he fell ill , but initially the officers of the detention center didn't call an ambulance for him. Though his cellmates asked to call an ambulance, when he started running across the cell. They took him out, handcuffed his hands to the bars and started beating him. The surveillance cameras recorded only to the point where he was it was taken out of the cell, and then there happened a “failure”. 18 blows were inflicted. When he started having convulsions and stopped breathing, they laid him on the floor and called the "ambulance". When the ambulance came he was already dead. When Valiantsina Aliakseyeva came to the morgue, they refused to show her his body and told ony to bring his clothes. She managed to inspect him only when he was taken home. "I saw that he was covered in bruises, all cut up , and his hands and feet and the face were all black. I called "102" and said: “You, killers, you killed my son, I don't believe that he died on his own. Two police officers came to me, I asked them to shoot the remove the body on video, but they refused. The following day a friend of my brought a photo camera, and we shot everything. The same evening I wrote an application to the police.” In her application Valiantsina Akulich requested a check-up on the death of her son due to the existence of numerous bodily injuries. The materials of the check-up state: "The following injuries were found during the examination of the corpse: multiple bruises on the scalp, face, in the area of ​​the right shoulder joint, the elbow, wrist joints in the area on the left leg , bleeding under mucosa of vestibule of mouth (upper lip) . Bruises on the back of the chest emerged from a blunt solid object like a baton stick. All of the injuries arose from the action of blunt solid objects shortly before death (during one day) and belong to light physical damage which cannot have cause-and-effect relationship with the onset of death. Appearance of these injuries from falling on the ground is excluded, as many injuries were located in different anatomic areas and cavities of the body." In his decision not to institute criminal proceedings the investigator V. Petachenka tells the mother of the dead that the need for the use of physical force and police gear against her son was caused by the fact that he "behaved aggressively, disobeyed the police and didn't submit to their legitimate demands”. "The actions of the police officers A. Stseshankou and A. Bachko who were on duty , comply with the law of Belarus "On the internal affairs" and were committed within the limits of their powers. Therefore, there are no grounds for a criminal case,” ruled the investigator of the Investigation Committee. Valiantsina Akulich believes that the investigation into the death of her son wasn't properly and needs to be supplemented, and therefore the decision of Senior Investigator of the Svetlahorsk district department of the Investigative Committee Uladzimir Petachenka is premature and should be repealed. She stated it in her appeal to the prosecutor of the Svetlahorsk district. In hear appeal Valiantsina Akulich insists on additional forensic examination and adoption of a solution about drawing the guilty people to legal account.

Harassment of human rights defenders and human rights organizations

On 19 July a search was held at the apartment of Valiantsina Kavalenka, an activist of the Civil Initiative against lawlessness in the courts and the prosecutor's office, was searched. According to V. Kavalenka, the police searched her home for drugs. The search, which lasted for about 40 mibnutes, was held by Senior Lieutenant Ladzeyeva with the help of three police officers: Barychonak, Kisialiou and Zaruba. The activist was explained that some detainee in a case dated 2011 said that she had allegedly sold him some drugs. The police found nothing in V. Kavalenka's apartment. She is sure that the pressurization is due to the fact that she and her husband sought review of criminal proceedings against their son and write complaints and letters to various authorities.

Pressurization of social and political activists by security services

On 10 July the Leninski District Court of Mahiliou dismissed the appeal of an activist fo the organizing committee of the party "Belarusian Christian Democracy" Aleh Aksionau against the warning, issued to him by the KGB on 19 April for acting on behalf of an unregistered organization. Judge Valiantsina Lapatsina considered that the Mahiliou regional department of the KGB had rightly warned the activist. The reason for it were the Internet publications, in which he acted on behalf of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy. As a result, Aleh Aksionau was put on the prophylactic register of the KGB. On 22 July Aleh Aksionau filed an appeal to the panel of judges on civil cases of the Mahiliou Regional Court with the request to reverse the decision of the Leninski District Court of Mahiliou concerning the warning issued to him by the Mahiliou KGB. In addition, the activist requires the court to issue a private ruling to the Mahiliou KGB Department concerning the gross violations of the law, and find illegal Art . 193.1 of the Criminal Code and Part 3 of Article 7 of the Law "On Political Parties", which prohibit activities on behalf of unregistered organizations.

Administrative prosecution of political activists, arbitrary detention

On 2 July in Minsk the police detained activists of the National Bolshevik movement Dzianis Haurykau, Aliaksandr Paliakou and Dzmitry Paliyenka. The police officers said they were suspected of robbery, but when the activists were taken to the Kastrychintski District Police Department, they were charged under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code for allegedly using foul language in a public place. A. Paliakou was then released as a minor. On 4 July Dzianis Haurykau and Dzmitry Paliyenka were sentenced to 2 days of arrest they had already served while awaiting trial.

On 4 July in Mahiliou an activist of the United Civil Party Mikalai Hladyshau held a one-man picket against the deployment of Russian airbases in Belarus. On the fence of a former Consumer Services Center he placed a poster "No Russian airbases in the Belarusian land”. Half an hour later the activist was detained . The policeman took him to the nearest police station, where he was given summons and then released. On 7 July Mikalai Hladyshau was summoned to the Leninski District Police Department of Minsk, where he once again questioned and a report of administrative violation was drawn. Mikalai Hladyshau was accused of violating Article 23.34 (a violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events). Police officer Zahorski stated that soon the activist would be called to court by a writ.

On 8 July the Savetski District Court of Minsk fined an activist organizing committee of the party "Belarusian Christian Democracy " Pavel Prakapovich 2.5 million rubles for an event in the memory of journalist Dzmitry Zavadski. On 7 July evening the activist posted a portrait of Dzmitry Zavadski in Yakub Kolas Square, after which he was detained. The violation report was composed under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (organizing or participating in an unauthorized mass event). During the night before the trial P. Prakapovich was held in the detention center .

On 16 July the head of the movement " Young Belarus" Dzmitry Kaspiarovich was detained at the border on the way to Vilnius and was taken to the Savetski District Police Department of Minsk. The detainee was told that he was in the database of offenders and had not served 12 -day administrative detention, which he had been given for allegedly using foul language at the Savetski District Court of Minsk on 17 March 2008. After the end of the trial Mr. Kaspiarovich was placed in the detention center. There he complained that he felt bad and was taken to the 11th Minsk clinical hospital with a hypertensive crisis.

On 17 July a lieutenant of the Baranavichy District Police Department Dzianis Maisenia drew up the third violation report against the head office Baranavichy Belarusian Language Society and activist of the Movement "For Freedom" Viktar Syrytsa, charging him with planning and carrying out unauthorized activities – the Milavidy festival in honor of the rebels of 1863. Earlier, the head of the Baranavichy City and District Court Mikalai Kmita twice sent the reports drawn up on V. Syrytsa back to the police department to correct the deficiencies. On 31 July Judge of the Baranavichy City and District Court Katsiaryna Hruda found Mr. Syrytsa guilty of violating Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus and punished him with a fine of 2 million rubles.

On 22 July two violation reports were drawn up against the Baranavichy entrepreneur and civil activist Mikalai Charnavus. He was accused of violating Part 3 of Article 23.34 (organizing and carrying out unauthorized mass events) during the rallies of the Baranavichy entrepreneurs on 27 June and 1 July. The first rally was held at the Cooperative Market and the second – in front of the tax office. During the events Mikalai Charnavus held the posters "We want to work" and "We do not need such a customs union”. Police major familiarized Mr. Charnavus with the violation reports right at his working place.

On 25 July morning in Minsk the activist of the civil campaign "Tell the Truth" by Pavel Vinahradau was detained while heading for the trial over the head of “Tell the Truth!”, Uladzimir Niakliayeu. He called a taxi, left the apartment and went missing – the taxi service reported that he didn't use the car he ordered. As it became known later , Vinahradau was taken to the Maskouski District Police Department of Minsk and released from there about 4 p.m. On the same day, another activist of the campaign "Tell the Truth!", Vital Vasilkou, was detained. He came out of the organization office to smoke and was immediately detained by unidentified men in civilian clothes. On 26 July the Maskouski District Court of Minsk sentenced him to ten days of administrative arrest under Article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, insubordination to lawful demands of the police. The verdict was delivered by Judge Tatsiana Motyl.

On 27 July the Babruisk member of the organizing committee of the BCD , businessman Viachaslau Sheleh stated that his 16-year-old daughter, Natallia, went missing in the morning. She was found only in the afternoon and was taken to the hospital with a concussion . According to V. Sheleh, everyday at 6 a.m. she went away for a 40-minute run. When she didn't return timely and her phone didn't answer her phone, the parents got anxious, because exactly one month ago she was met by some unidentified people in the stairwell. They said the girl to tell her father to stop dealing with politics, and threatened her with rape. After Natallia saw these people at the entrance of the house again, she applied to the police. second time. Natallia told her parents that while running in the morning, she was hit in the head, and when she came to her senses, she saw that she was in the woods. Her clothes were tattered, and her body and face were covered with black paint. When she went to the road track to stop a car, the drivers were afraid to pick her up because of her look, but some of them agreed to give her a hike, after which she managed to phone his father. He called the police who arrived in two hours and held a questioning. After Natallia's return they took testimonies from her parents and promised to hold a check-up. Viachaslau Sheleh suggested that the abduction of her daughter could be conducted by the security services in order to intimidate him for his social and political activism.

On 29 July the Partyzanski District Court of Minsk held trials over three activists of the civil campaign “Alternative”, Aleh Korban, Aleh Keral and Dzmitry Silchanka. On 26 July the activists hanged out white-red-white flags on the bridge over the Partyzanski Avenue near "Belarus" department store to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Declaration of Sovereignty of Belarus. In a few minutes they were detained by police in civilian clothes and pulled into two minibuses. Together with the activists the police detained a photographer of "Nasha Niva" Siarhei Hudzilin, the BelaPAN correspondents Andrei Korsak and Zakhar Shcharbakou, and public activist Volha Burnevich. All of them were taken to the Partyzanski District Police Department of Minsk. The journalists and the girl were released after identification without getting any charges, whereas Aleh Korban, Aleh Keral and Dzmitry Silchanka were taken in the detention center before the trial. All of them were charged with disorderly conduct ( Art17.1 of the Administrative Code). Aleh Korban was tried by Judge Volha Paulouskaya, Dzmitry Silchanka – by Judge Katsiaryna Chaiko. All three activists were punished with 5 days of arrest.

Restrictions on freedom of speech and the right to disseminate information , harassment of journalists

On 2 July at a meeting of entrepreneurs at the “Slavianski” market in Rechytsa the police tried to find out on which basis an independent journalist, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Larysa Shchyrakova was making video shots. Police captain Dzmitry Svirydzenka demanded that she showed him her journalist ID. She presented a membership card of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, and he copied all the data in a notebook. In some time the BAJ received a call from Rechytsa. The police asked whether Larysa Shchyrakova was really a member of the organization. Mr. Svirydzenka also checked the documents of the head of the Homel organization of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Anatol Hatouchyts.

On 9 July a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Alena Stsiapavana was summoned to the Kastrychnitski District Police Station of Vit
sebsk, where the senior inspector of public order and prophylaxis Siarhei Viaraksa familiarize her with a report of administrative violation under Aricle 22.9 Part 2 of the Administrative Code. The police officers claim that Alena Stsiapanava “carried out professional activities of a journalist for the foreign media Radio “Liberty" without proper accreditation". Meanwhile, the administrative article under which she is charged provides liability for "violation of the rules of sending out free copies of periodicals, distribution of erotic publications, publication of retractions in the media or illegal production and distribution of media". On 12 July Alena Stsiapanava was to have been tried at the Kastrychnitski District Court of Vitsebsk, but Judge Ina Hrabouskaya filed the report back to the police for correction of deficiences. The trial was postponed to an unknown term.

On 10 July the journalists of the newspaper “Nasha Niva” Iryna Arakhouskaya and Mikita Dubaleka were detained in the center of Minsk, allegedly for identification. In some time they were released. No detention reports were drawn on them.

On 25 July a correspondent of the internal policy department of the weekly “Belorusy i Rynok” Ihar Ilyash was detained by the police. The reporter was present at the trial over the ex-candidate for presidency Uladzimir Niakliayeu, held in the Leninski District Court of Minsk. After the end of the trial Mr. Ilyash headed for the bus stop. He was approached by three officers of the Maskouski District Police Department of Minsk in civvies, who asked him to go with them into the van, which stood close by. They argued that he allegedly "was shot with a hidden camera which registered some violations”. The journalist was taken to the department of public order and prophylaxis of the Maskouski DPD, where he was told that he was detained for identification, as he “presented a journalist ID without passport”. After asking for the passport data I. Ilyash was interviewed on the subject of where he was in the night of 24 July, and who could confirm his words. After that, the policemen apologized and released the correspondent.

On 26 July journalists were detained while white-red-white flags were hanged out by activists of the campaign "Alternative": the photo correspondent of “Nasha Niva” Siarhei Hudzilin and the correspondents of the BelaPAN Andrei Korsak and Zakhar Shcharbakou. They were taken to the Partyzanski District Police Department of Minsk together with the detained activists, and released after identification.

On 28 July independent journalist Dzmitry Lupach was not allowed to attend the meeting of dwellers of the village of Dzerkaushchyna of the Hlybokaye district, where the prohibition on growing pigs in the 5-kilometer zone from the pig farm “Malinoushchyna” was discussed. Having seen the journalist, the head of the Hlybokaye District Executive Committee Aleh Morkhat asked the head of the Hlybokaye District Police Department Viktar Adamovich who let the journalist come there. After this, the journalist was officially explained that he was prohibited to attend the meeting as he wasn't a dweller of Dzerkaushchyna.