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

2014 2014-01-15T15:13:00+0300 2014-01-22T15:16:31+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations

Review-Chronicle of Human Rights Violations

The last month of 2013 did not bring changes in the overall human rights situation – it remained consistently bad. The negative trends that have been formed and retained throughout the year, persisted, including lack of political will of the Belarusian authorities in solving the problem of political prisoners, severe restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other civil and political rights, ignoring calls for the abolition or a moratorium on the death penalty. The authorities recognized having secretly issued another death sentence in November.

In December, the Belarusian authorities demonstrated they were not going to give up repressive measures against dissidents and opponents. Within a month, the names of Vasil Parfiankou and Uladzimir Yaromenak were again added to the list of political prisoners, which already includes Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Autukhovich, Ales Bialiatski, Mikalai Dziadok, Andrei Haidukou, Eduard Lobau, Artsiom Prakapenka, Mikalai Statkevich and Yauhen Vaskovich. As a result the total number of political hostages reached 11 people. Vasil Parfiankou and Uladzimir Yaromenak were convicted on charges of violating the rules of preventive supervision, which was set over them by the courts for an active social life after their release on presidential decree in 2011, while they were serving prison terms for taking part in essentially peaceful protests in December 2010. These two cases give reason to believe that the Belarusian authorities tend to follow a certain stability in the issue of political prisoners: the trend to keep the same amount of political prisoners was observed throughout the year. In particular, the release of three prisoners in August -October was "compensated" by the repeated imprisonment of two activists in December. Also, the new criminal cases witness the fact that the authorities are not going to weaken the control of former political prisoners, using the restrictive tools associated with prior conviction as a means of limiting their activity and intimidate them (preventive supervision was set over three former political prisoners - Dzmitry Dashkevich, Aliasandr Frantskevich and Pavel Vinahradau, whereas an easier control measure, prophylactic supervision, was spread over another 28 former political prisoners).

December was characterized by a decrease of international attention to the human rights situation in Belarus, in particular, to the problem of political prisoners. There was a virtual absence of public statements by the EU and the U.S. on this issue as a condition for establishing a full-fledged political dialogue and cooperation with the official Minsk. There was also no information about the availability of this issue on the agenda during the meeting of Foreign Minister of Belarus Uladzimir Makei with heads of diplomatic agencies of the EU, the U.S. and the Vatican, held on 17 December. All that is known is that during the meeting they discussed "a wide range of issues concerning the state and prospects of development of relations between the Republic of Belarus with these countries in bilateral and multilateral formats". It was a worrying sign as foreign policy factor in the current situation is the most effective and virtually the only instrument of influence on official Minsk and avoiding discussion of the problem of political prisoners could foster the freezing of the issue.

In December, domestic and international human rights defenders made a notable emphasis on social and economic rights in Belarus. A joint report by FIDH and the Human Rights Center "Viasna" stated a deep crisis in the socio- economic sphere and portrayed everyday violations of human rights in Belarus. On 29 November the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations in its concluding observations raised the issue of forced labor and labor rights violations stated in the report by FIDH and Human Rights Center "Viasna". In particular, the Committee explicitly demanded from Belarus to revise the system of short-term labor contracts, abolish forced labor of those with drug and alcohol addiction and "obligated persons", who were held in the so-called "activity therapy centers" against their will, to revise relevant legislation, ensure the free exercise of trade unions and to take some positive steps to ensure the effective and efficient social protection rights of the population.

Political prisoners, the prosecution of public activists

On 1 December political prisoner Eduard Lobau turned was 25 years old. On 6-9 December his mother and brother had a three-day meeting with in penal colony No. 22 "Vouchyia Nory" in the Ivatsevichy district. Maryna Lobava reported that her son felt good. During the last four months he has been learning the profession of electric welder, and intends to enter the Faculty of History and get a higher education after his release from jail. Mr. Lobau said that before the meeting he had been very busy: he had to sew on tags to winter clothes tags and bring order to his things and papers as searches were usually conducted before the New Year begins searches. The probable cause searches is to find alcohol, as before the New Year there are many visits and someone can bring it to the colony (it happens every year). It takes much time to put everything in its place after the searches.

On 2 December Maryna Adamovich, wife of political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich, got two letters from her husband after a long break. From these letters she learned that Statkevich a very long night search (more than 30 minutes) was held in her husband's cell, attended by senior officers of the Mahiliou prison, where he is serving his term. On 3 December it was announced that on 18 November an individual communication on behalf of Mikalai Statkevich was lodged with the Human Rights Committee of the UN. Statkevich's interests are represented at the Committee are represented by his wife. This is already the second appeal to UN agencies by representatives of Mr. Statkevich. In February 2011, his daughter Katsiaryna Statkevich filed an appeal to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. On 19 June 2011, the Working Group found that Belarus had violated the rights of Mr. Statkevich and ruled that his deprivation of liberty was arbitrary and constituted a violation of Art. 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article. 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Working Group urged the Belarusian government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, which had to include immediate release of Mr. Statkevich and adequate compensation. The present appeal proves a number of violations by Belarus of the internationally recognized standards in the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case in which M. Statkevich was convicted. On 12 December Maryna Adamovich said that with the onset of cold the radiators in the prisoner's cell allegedly broke, and there was no light in the cell where he was kept, as well as in two neighboring cells. Mr. Statkevich was given extra blanket, but was allowed to use it only at night. In the daytime the prison guards vigilantly watch him, and the prison administration even tried to impose on him a penalty for improper dress code. On 16 December Haradok activist Leanid Haravy received from the chief of the Mahiliou prison A. Dzimitrau a response to his complaint concerning restrictions on the right to correspondence, imposed on M. Statkevich. He demanded an explanation why his letter did not reach the political prisoner. The response stated only the following: "There wasn't discovered any violations by officers of prison No. 4 connected to seizure of the letter sent by you." There was no information about any measures taken for complete, objective, comprehensive and timely examination of the complaint in the answer. On 26 December Maryna Adamovich had a short-term meeting with Mikalai Statkevich, during which it became clear that the letter of the political prisoner in which he reported the disappearance of white bread from prisoners' diet, did not pass the prison censorship and was not sent.

On 5 December Minsk Pershamaiski District Court Judge Leanid Yarmolenka sentenced public activist Vasil Parfiankou to 1 year of imprisonment in a maximum-security penal colony for violating the rules of preventive supervision, with the use of coercive measures of treatment of persons suffering from chronic alcoholism according to Art. 107 of the Criminal Code. Mr. Parfiankou was taken into custody in the courtroom and sent to remand prison. Until February 2014, he will be kept in prison No. 7 in Zhodzina. In February 2011 Vasil Parfiankou was sentenced to four years' imprisonment under Part 2 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code ("participation in mass disorders") for participation in protest against electoral fraud during the presidential election. In August 2011 he was pardoned under a presidential decree. Preventive supervision over V. Parfiankou was established on 5 January 2012 for a period of 1 year, shortly after he served a 15- day administrative arrest for participating in a peaceful assembly on 19 December, the anniversary of the events of 2010. On 29 May 2012 Pershamaiski District Court Minsk May 29, 2012 sentenced him to six months of under Article 421 of the Penal Code for violations of conditions of supervision, which Mr. Parfiankou served in colony No. 6 in Baranavichy. After his release from prison on 9 February 2013, preventive supervision was extended for another six months. On 12 July Vasil Parfiankou was again charged under Article 421 of the Criminal Code. However, the case wasn't passed to court, as far as on 21 September Minsk Pershamaiski District Court ruled that Vasil Parfiankou was to be sent to activity therapy center for compulsory treatment for alcoholism, as a result of which he was sent to the activity therapy center in Svetlahorsk. During the consideration of the case of violation of the rules of preventive surveillance on 5 December V. Parfiankou refused to testify in court and pleaded not guilty. He explained that close attention to him on the part of law-enforcement agencies was nothing but another attempt to isolate him for his public activities. Vasil Parfiankou expressed his intention to appeal the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court in Minsk City Court. The Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee regarded the imprisonment of Vasil Parfiankou as politically motivated persecution.

On 6 December veterans of war in Afghanistan lodged a complaint with the Prosecutor General, demanding to voice information about the status of political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich. The text of the complaint was sent by the head of the "Legal Assistance to Population", co-chairman of the organizing committee of the Republican public association of veterans of the war in Afghanistan "Defenders of the Fatherland" Aleh Volchak. The human rights activist said that in September 2013, information was received that prisoner Autukhovich had to cut his stomach in protest against the illegal actions of the administration of the Hrodna prison in order to stop the unjustified actions of prison staff. Based on this information, a complaint was filed to the Prosecutor General. The applicants hoped that prosecutors would strictly follow the Law "On Prosecutor's Office" and would hold a prosecutorial examination check. However, in violation of the law, the appeal was sent to the authority whose actions were appealed, namely to police colonel Talochak. The applicants emphasize that no examination was carried out, which made them file a repeated appeal. On 20 December Aleh Volchak said that the Prosecutor General's Office forwarded the appeal to the prosecutor of the Hrodna region. The human rights activist also said that Mr. Autukhovich was in pre-diabetic state, having an increased blood sugar level, 8 mmol/l, whereas the normal level for an adult is 3.89 - 5.83 mmol/l in the blood taken from finger; the norm for blood from a vein is 6.1 and those ill with diabetes have a level above 7.0).

On 9 December "Young Front" activist Uladzimir Yaromenak was told that on 11 December he was to appear in the Pershamaiki District Police Department, from which he would be taken to the remand prison of the Minsk City Executive Committee in Valadarski Street. On 20 August the activist was sentenced to three months of arrest for violating the rules of preventive supervision. On 12 November Minsk City Court upheld the verdict. Uladzimir Yaromenak was involved in the criminal case of mass riots in Minsk on 19 December 2010. He was sentenced to three years in a high security prison, but in August 2011 was released on the basis of the presidential decree of pardon. Preventive supervision was set over him. Human rights defenders regard the actions of the authorities against U.Yaromenak as politically motivated persecution. On 17 January Uladzimir Yaromenak's wife Valiantsina was informed by the MIA Department of Corrections that her husband would be transferred to the detention house in Baranavichy to serve his term. Valiantsina Yaromenak reported that the prisoner was not allowed to use a lawyer, as he hadn't written an application for it.

On 10 December Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe passed a symbolic award for vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights and the head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski, the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Paris, to his son, Adam Bialiatski. This tittle was awarded to the human rights activist in October 2012 at the suggestion of the Mayor of Paris, and at the initiative of the Council of the 11th district of the French capital. At the moment Mr. Delanoe's mandate ends, and due to the impossibility to give honorary citizenship to A. Bialiatski personally unfulfilled, he decided to present this award to the son of the prisoner of conscience on 10 December. Bertrand Delanoe is personally acquainted with Ales Bialiatski and closely watches his fate. On 10 December Belarusian PEN Centre and Radio "Liberty" announced the winners of the award named after Frantsysk Aliakhnovich, for the best work, which was written in prison in Belarus. Among the winners there is the book "Enlightened by Belarusian Issue”, written by Ales Bialiatski.

On 10 December the author of the book "I'm going to Magadan" political prisoner Ihar Alinevich won the first award named Frantsysk Aliakhnovich. This award, established by the Belarusian PEN Center and Radio "Liberty", is awarded for works written in prison. The award was received by Ihar's mother, Valiantsina Alinevich. She reported receiving letters from residents of different countries of the world who read the book on the Internet. According to her, three copies of "I'm going to Magadan" have been passed to the famous Russian prison "Butyrka", where they are read by the people convicted in the case of the unreste in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow.

On 30 December political prisoner Mikalai Dziadok had a meeting with his wife Valeryia Khotsina in Mahiliou prison. It was the first and only meeting allowed to Mikalai during the year. The meeting lasted two hours, during which the spouses talked over the phone, staring at each other through a thick glass. As reported by Valeryia, Mikalai is pale, as far as he has been kept in prison without fresh air and sunlight for a year already. At the same time, he is not emaciated. He confirmed the information of Mikalai Statkevich, kept in the same prison, that prisoners stopped receiving white bread.

Death penalty

On 12 December Tamara Seliun, mother of the death convict Pavel Seliun, received from the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret a response to her appeal. The Metropolitan said that BOC opposes the death penalty in Belarus: "Belarusian Orthodox Church is making efforts to stop the use of the death penalty in our country, which fully complies with the provisions set out in the "Fundamentals of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church". Christian moral upbringing instilled in people's minds a negative attitude towards the death penalty. Abolition of the death penalty would give more opportunities for pastoral work with those who stumbled, and for their own repentance". The response also states that the letter and of Tamara Seliun and the response of Metropolitan Filaret were sent to the Commission on Pardons at the Presidential Administration. Head of the main bureau of the Presidential Administration Dzianis Kolas said that the documents were attached to the case file and would be taken into account when considering Seliun's application for pardon.

On 17 December the Human Rights Center "Viasna" learned that on 26 November another death sentence was issued in Belarus. Minsk Regional Court sentenced to death 53 -year-old Eduard Lykau, who was under investigation since 2011. Mr. Lykau had no permanent residence, but maintains contact with his mother, who lives in Baranavichy. His son lives in Russia, daughter – in Germany, but the convict has no relations with his children. E. Lykau was born in Russia, but is a citizen of the Republic of Belarus. Concealment of the death sentence to E. Lykau by the authorities showed that the state can hide from the public death penalty sentences and executions. On 20 December the Investigative Committee told the largest state-owned newspaper, "Sovetskaya Belorussia", details in the case of E. Lykau. He was charged with five murders, the first two of which he had committed back in 2002 – after a feast conflict erupted, in which he killed his former cellmate and his mother. An innocent man, brother and son of the deceased, served 7 years in prison for this murder. According to the investigators, the third murder was committed by E. Lykau made in 2004 – he killed the lover of his concubine, the alleged motive is jealousy. In 2011, according to the investigators, Mr. Lykau killed the concubine who wanted to kick him out of the house. Eduard Lykau was arrested in September 2011, soon after killing a 74 - year-old resident of the settlement of Zhdanovichy near Minsk. According to the materials of the case, a quarrel occurred between the accused and the killed, a fight broke out, during which Eduard Lykau inflicted several blows to his friend with a pipe. Thus, nine years passed between the first murder and detention of Eduard Lykau. Psychiatric examination showed that Mr. Lykau had an increased level of aggression, bu was sane and able to control his actions.

On 20 December Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court Valery Kalinkovich held a press conference. When asked what will change in the near future how to inform journalists about the imposition and execution of death sentences, he said that this issue would be addressed at the plenum of the Supreme Court. "We can think of approaches to disseminate information on the activities of the courts. It will just be one of the subjects on the agenda of the Plenum of the Supreme Court." V. Kalinkovich added that at present "the bearer of this information is the body that is responsible for the execution of sentences", i.e. the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The press conference was held before the plenum of the Supreme Court "On ensuring transparency in the administration of justice and the dissemination of information about the activities of the courts".

On 24 December Homel Regional Court again sentenced Aliaksandr Hrunou to death for murder. 25 -year-old Aliaksandr Hrunou committed the murder of his acquaintance Natallia Yemialyanchykava in the midnight on 20 September 2012. At the trial he explained that some time before the meeting she had insulted him in the company of familiar people and did not apologize. This was the cause of aggression. As a result, he struck the victim 102 stab wounds. On 14 June 2013, the Homel Regional Court sentenced Aliaksandr Hrunou to death. The accused pleaded guilty and apologized to the girls mother Natallia Yemialyanchykava. On 18 October his appeal against the sentence was considered by the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court. The verdict Was quashed and the case was sent to a new trial. As a result of re-examination of the criminal case the court was again rendered the death penalty. Aliaksandr has an opportunity to again appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.

Torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment

On 4 December the exhumation of the corpse of 21-year-old inmate of the remand prison in Valadarski Street Ihar Ptsichkin was carried out with participation of experts of the State Committee of forensic examinations. Within a month, the results of the new autopsy will become known. Mr. Ptsichkin's relatives sought exhumation nearly four months after the funeral. Ihar Ptsichkinwas to have serve three months of arrest in the prison in Valadarski Street for driving after being deprived of the driver's license. However, he suddenly died on 4 August. The prison chief reported that on 3 August Ihar developed "psychomotor agitation" and was taken to the medical unit, "where he had to be fixed with straps". Numerous bruises can be seen on the photographs of his corpse. An employee of the medical department of remand prison No. 1 of the Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus in Minsk and Minsk region, who kept duty the night of death, is accused of the inmate's death. Criminal proceedings have been brought, on charges of professional misconduct resulting in the patient's death by negligence. Ptischkin's relatives believe that he was beaten before his death. On 13 December it became known that the investigation into the death of I. Ptsichkin was investigated by the Main Investigation Department, and before that it was investigated by the Investigative Committee in Minsk.

On 10 December Minsk resident Liudmila Kuchura, whose husband was tortured with sodium chlorine in the PC-15 in Mahiliou received a reply from the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus to the complaint, in which she requested to initiate a criminal case on this fact. Head of the Central Procedural Control Department of the IC Mikhail Alioshkin informed Liudmila Kuchura that "no grounds were found for an inspection on your application in line with criminal procedural legislation". The IC did not conduct any inspection despite the fact that the applicant had asked for it, and referred to the ruling of the Mahiliou Regional Prosecutor's Office for 13 December 2013, attached to the appeal, in which it was stated that "an examination of the regime of penalty for Kuchura P.K. was held in connection with your complaint. No violations, including any crimes committed by the staff of the correctional institution in respect of Kuchura P.K.were revealed". In this case, a shift of the emphasis by the investigating authorities can be observed, as the earlier prosecutor's check, was not really aimed at determining whether the poisoning of Piatro Kuchura with chlorine had really taken place and what were the consequences of this poisoning. In addition, the applicant's arguments that the MIA Corrections Department (to which the Mahiliou Regional Department of the Investigative Committee forwarded her previous application ) is not authorized to consider reports of crimes committed by officials of the Interior in connection with their official duties, were ignored by the representative of Investigative Committee Mikhail Alioshkin.

On 13 December the Svetlahorsk district prosecutor Uladzimir Tarasenka gave a response to a complaint filed by Valiantsina Akulich, mother of Aliaksandr Akulich who had died in the Svetlahorsk detention center. In his response the official noted that the District Investigative Committee refused to open a criminal investigation into the death of her son legitimately: "A full-scale inspection was conducted. There are no grounds for cancellation of the decision. "In the next paragraph it is stated: "On 25 November 2013 the case on inquiry into the death of Akulich A.A. was sent to the prosecutor's office of the Homel Region to study and verify the legality of the decision. The case is still there." This response is by Uladzimir Tarasenka is dated 13 December 2013, whereas Valiantsina Akulich's complaint was received by the Prosecutor's Office on 12 December 2013. It turns out that the prosecutor responded to the complaint without studying the results of the examination. Valiantsina Akulich has been seeking a criminal punishment for the employees of the Svetlahorsk District Police Department A. Bachko and R. Stseshankou for eighteen months already. She insists that her son died in the detention center through their fault. The Investigative Committee has repeatedly denied Valiantsina Akulich a criminal investigation into the death of her son, and she has repeatedly appealed those denials. Svetlahorsk resident Aliaksandr Akulich died in the detention center of the Svetlahorsk District Police Department in May 2012. Valiantsina Akulich is sure that the policemen Bachko and Stseshankou, who kept duty in the detention center that night, beat the detainee, who was in a morbid state, instead of providing him with the necessary medical assistance.

On 18 December ex-presidential candidate in the 2010 elections Aliaksei Mikhalevich said that he had received an answer from the Prosecutor General's Office to his statement about the possibility of familiarization with the results of the examination concerning the use of abuse and torture in the KGB pre-trial prison, which was conducted on his appeal after his release from the detention facility in March 2011. As it was stated in the response of the Office of the Prosecutor General, the results of the inspection carried out at the request of A. Mikhalevich were a state secret. That's why his lawyer won't be acquainted with them, and even won't be given a copy of the refusal to institute criminal proceedings. "While in the remand prison, I have already been told that the presence of the men in black who mocked at us and tortured us was a "secret of the investigation". Now they are promoted to the "secret protected by law," commented the politician.

Harassment of human rights defenders and human rights organizations

On 10 December the General Prosecutor's Office responded to the inquiry of Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich concerning the inclusion of the website of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" in the list of restricted access. According to the response, the organization's website was listed as restricted by the General Prosecutor's Office in August 2011 due to the fact that "actions on behalf of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", which was not registered with the state in the prescribed manner, were contrary to the law of the Republic of Belarus. "Prosecutor General's Office also reminds us that organizing or participating in the activities of organizations that have not been registered with the state are penalized by Art. 193.1 of the Criminal Code. Due to the fact that information that promotes acts prohibited by law has been published on the Internet resource for a long time, in August 2011 the Prosecutor General's Office issued a decision on the inclusion of an identifier for this on-line resource to the list of restricted access, which was passed for execution by
the State Supervisory Department for Telecommunications of the Republic of Belarus (SSDTRB). The answer was signed by the head of the Department of Supervision of the rights and freedoms of citizens M. Papova. On 23 December Valiantsin Stefanovich lodged a complaint with the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk, in which he noted that he was both author and reader of the materials posted on the website and considers the decision of the Office of the Prosecutor General to restrict access to the Internet resource as a manifestation of censorship. V. Stefanovich asked the court to declare the decision illegal and require the law enforcement agency to remedy the admitted law violation. The human rights activist noted that the reasons for limiting the rights to freedom of expression, free search and dissemination of information, referred to in the answer of the General Prosecutor's Office, are not related to permissible restrictions (for respect of the rights or reputations of others to protect public safety, order, health or morals) specified in the relevant articles of the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

On 14 December Homel human rights defender Anatol Paplauny who worked as a mechanic at the unitary enterprise "Vipra" was not allowed to work. The administration of the enterprise demanded that he leave the workplace. On 12 December an announcement was posted that the working day of 31 December was postponed to 12 December. A. Paplauny came to work and took up his duties. but the head of the tool workshop came and demanded that he leave the workplace, saying that there was no need for Mr. Paplauny to work, as his labor contract would expire on 27 December. At the same time, a trial on a civil suit of the human rights defender against the enterprise was to be held in several days. Anatol Paplauny is sure that if he had not come to work on 14 December he would have been immediately fired from work for absenteeism. The enterprise administration was looking for flaws in the work of the human rights defender in order to win the case in court. Anatol Paplauny has worked as a mechanic at the enterprise "Vipra" for five years and have received no penalties during that time. However, he was warned that his contract would not be renewed. The human rights activist has appealed to court to get dismissed, but not on mutual agreement, as the manager of the enterprise wants, as in this case he will get no reimbursement for the dismissal.
in court damageatstsa to his dismissal, but not by the parties, as director wants, because in this case the employee does not receive compensation. A. Paplauny as been repeatedly published for his socio-political activities. In particular, he served a 15-day administrative arrest term during the silent protest actions held in summer 2011. He has always taken an active part in monitoring the elections.

Administrative prosecution of social and political activists, arbitrary detention

On 6 December at 21:00 a bus for Kyiv was stopped near Mar'ina Horka an hour after departure from Minsk. 53 Belarusians were going to the Euro-maidan to support Kyiv protesters. The bus was stopped in an open field with the participation of KGB, transport police and traffic police. The documents for the bus, as well as the documents of all passengers, were examined. The passengers refused to drive to the district police department and got off the bus, whereas the representatives of the law enforcement agencies drove away, taking the bus with them. In about two hours the activists got to Minsk by hitchhiking. After this, some of them stayed home, while others continued their journey and got to Kyiv.

In the morning of 7 December the co-chair of the "Young Front" Andrei Tsianyuta was detained at the central railway station of Homel. He was meeting his friends from Minsk who were going to the concert of "Liapis Trubetskoy" in Kyiv. The activist and his friends were approached by the police, who checked the documents of the Minskers, put down their passport data and let them go. They also detained Mr. Tsianiuta and kept him at the police station at the railway station. They tried to find out what he was doing at the station and who were the people he was meeting. No charges were given to the activist.

On 9
December the co-Chairman of the "Young Front" and a participant of the campaign "Stop Drinking – Start Living" Andrei Tsianiuta was fined 25 basic units for posting anti-alcohol demotivators in public places. The fine was imposed by the administrative commission of the Savetski district of Homel in accordance with Article 21.14 of the Administrative Code (violation of the rules of maintenance of settlements). The charges were given to the activist on 21 November. That day Andrei Tsianiuta and Stanislau Bulla were detained. The trial of Mr. Bulla's case was postponed as the defendant didn't bring his passport with him.

On 9 December an activist of the solidarity movement "Together" Illia Dabratvor was visited by officers of the Tsentralny District Police Department of Minsk. They warned the activist of the need to come to the DPD on 10 December for presenting him charges concerning the picket near the Ukrainian Embassy, held by him on 30 November. On 10 December Illia Dabratvor was charged, detained and taken to the detention center in Akrestsin Street pending trial. On 11 December Judge of the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk Viktoryia Shabunia sent the violation report accusing him of administrative offense under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code for revision to the Tsentralny DPD and released Mr. Dabratvor from custody. A mismatch between the testimonies and the violation report was discovered during the trial: Mr. Dabratvor was holding a Ukrainian flag, whereas in the report it was written that he was holding a EU flag. On 12 December the judge punished the defendant with a fine of 8 basic units.

On 10 December Navabelitski District Court of Homel convicted local public activist Uladzimir Shytsikau of organizing an unsanctioned march on "Dziady". On 3 November a group of activists laid a wreath to the cross on the site of the shooting of victims of Stalinist repression. A procession with white-red-white flag was held on the outskirts of the city for about two minutes. For this judge Tatyana Shauchenka fined Mr. Shytsikau 20 basic units. The peculiarity of the case of Uladzimir Shytsikau is that he did not even know he had been charged for it. He wasn't summoned to the police, and a copy of the violation report was sent to him by mail.

On 15 December activist of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Ales Charkashyn held a performance at the entrance of Brest Regional Executive Committee: he dressed as a prophet, smeared his hands with red paint and called on the authorities to repent for their sins against the people. A. Charkashyn was arrested by officers of the Leninski District Police Department of Brest 10 minutes after the end of the performance. He was taken to the police station, where he was charged with organizing an unsanctioned rally. However, then he was taken to Brest regional neuropsychiatric clinic for a psychiatric examination. It was assumed that the procedure can take up to three days. However, Mr. Charkashyn was returned to the police station the same night. On 17 December the Leninski District Court of Brest refused to consider administrative proceedings against Mr. Charkashyn due to inaccuracies in the violation report.

On 19 December evening an activist of the "European Belarus" Maksim Viniarski was detained together with public activist Natallia Harachka on Nezalezhnasts Square in Minsk while she was lighting a candle near the Red Church on the occasion of the third anniversary of the events of 2010, and Maksim was taking photos. The detainees were taken to the Maskouski District Police Department of Minsk. Natallia was released soon afterwards, whereas Maksim was transferred to the Tsentralny DPD and received charges for an unauthorized picket near the Ukrainian Embassy on 30 November. On 20 December Minsk Tsentralny District Judge Viktoryia Shabunia sentenced Maksim Viniarski to 15 days of arrest. The court convicted the activist of a violation of Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of order or organization of mass events). The activist asked the court to postpone the execution of the punishment for a month due to the illness of his mother, but this request was refused. Maksim Viniarski went on a hunger-strike in protest against the decision of Judge Viktoryia Shabynia.

On 20 December at Nezalezhnasts Avenue in Minsk employees of the Tsentralny DPD took away the car of a participant of the action “Stop Tax” Dzmitry Pryharau. No documents were composed, no explanations offered. Mr. Pryharau was driving towards the House of the Government from the side of Peramoha Square, and was stopped by traffic police patrol near the Palace of the Republic. Dz. Pryharau was immediately fined for unreasonable use of the beep signal. However, he wasn't explained how the police managed to make out his beeping among all other cars. The traffic policemen didn't introduce themselves. After issuing the fine they asked Dz. Pryharau to open the hood of the car, after which he was told that his car was to be sent to the parking lot of the Tsentralny DPD. At the DPD the car was sealed, but the activist wasn't issued with a copy of the detention order or examination report. He was just told to come on 23 December. When Mr. Pryharau came there, an officer of the Tsentralny District Police Department told him that his car would remain at the DPD for a month, adding that he should have thought over his actions in advance and he wouldn't have any problems if he stayed at home. On 24 December Dz. Pryharau filed a complaint against the actions of the police officer to Chairman of the Police Board of the Tsentralny District Executive Committee of Minsk.

At 5 p.m. on 20 December in Biaroza policemen in mufti detained the head of the Biaroza district branch of the United Civil Party Aliaksandr Kabanau and his brother Yauhen. The brothers were handing out leaflets to support the campaign "Stop Tax". The leaflets were seized, the detainees were given charges and then released.

On 23 December the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk considered the administrative cases of Aliaksandr Frantskevich, Anastasiya Kukhta and Anastasiya Shaternik, detained during the action "Stop Tax" on 20 December. The detention took place at about 6.30 p.m. near Peramoha Square, not far from the house-museum of the RSDLP. Aliaksandr Frantskevich was approached by unknown persons in civilian clothes without identification badges while he was taking photos of the police on his phone. Anastasiya Kukhta and Anastasiya Shaternik tried to intercede for A. Frantskevich, as a result all three were detained. At the Tsentralny DPD they were charged under Art. 23.4 of the Administrative Code (disobedience to the police). Since Friday until Monday they were kept at the detention center in Aksrestsin Street, awaiting trial. Judge Aliaksandr Yakunchykhin ruled to fine Anastasiya Kukhta 5 basic units and Anastasiya Shaternik was fined 10 basic units. Aliaksandr Frantskevich was sentenced to 12 days of arrest by Judge Viktoryia Shabunia.

The same day the Leninski District Court of Minsk considered the administrative cases of the detained participants of "Stop Tax", motorists Kanstantsin Hlushko and Andrei Samokhin, who were charged under Article 23.4 of the Administrative Code (disobedience to the police). They were detained on Friday, 20 December, and kept in the detention center in Akrestsin Street at the weekend before the trial. Judge Andrei Kamushkin sentenced Kanstantsin Hlushko to 5 days of arrest. The proceedings against Andrei Samokhin, who was Hlushko's passengers, were terminated.

On 23 December Judge of the Slutsk District Court Sviatlana Pastukhova punished local activist Zinaida Tsimoshak with a fine of 20 basic units under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (organization of or participation in an unauthorized mass event). She regarded as an unauthorized mass event Tsimoshak'a attempt to viewing of the documentary film "40 Days of Peasant Republic" dedicated to the anniversary of the Slutsk anti-Bolshevik uprising, in the Culture House in the village of Kazlovichy on 23 November. The viewing was timed to the anniversary of Slutsk uprising. However, it was disrupted by the local police, who detained and interrogated its participants and gave administrative charges to Zinaida Tsimoshak. The head of the Culture House Aliaksandr Tumilovich resigned in protest.

On 23 December the Maskouski District Court sentenced public activist Aliaksandr Makayeu to five days of arrest under Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events). A. Makayeu was detained in the village of Hrozava in the Kopyl district on 24 November for raising a white-red-white flag during festivities on the occasion of the anniversary of the Slutsk anti-Bolshevik uprising.

On 26 December a 23-year-old activist of the United Civil Party, member of the group "Stop Tax" in the social network "VKontakte" Anton Kastsou was sentenced to 3 days of arrest by the Kastrychnitski District Court of Mahiliou. On 24 December was charged under Part 1 of Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events). He was seized laptop. On 26 December Mr. Kastsou was to have come to the Kastrychnitski DPD of Mahiliou, where the police intended to study his correspondence on the Internet. Back on 24 December they demanded that he delete from the social network the group “Stop-Fear”, in which the group “Stop-Tax” formed. Anton Kastsou managed to remove only his records, because, as stated by him, he was just a member of the group, but didn't create or administrate it. The same day, the group was deleted by its creator, resident of another city. The group “Stop-Tax” discussed the possibility of holding another action of protest of motorists against the imposition of a tax for admission of cars to participation in the traffic.

On 26 December in Minsk an activist of the National Bolshevik Party Dzmitry Paliyenka was detained. The detention took place at about 4 p.m. near the entrance of the plant MAZ, where he works. The activist was taken to the Zavadski District Police Department and charged under Article 17.1 of the Administrative Code, "disorderly conduct". On 27 December Judge of the Zavadski District Court Anastasiya Osipchyk punished Mr. Paliyenka with 15 days of administrative arrest, having dismissed his petition for viewing the video recording from the plant entrance, which could prove that he hadn't done anything illegal. Dzmitry Paliyenka considers illegal actions of law enforcement officers as a preventive persecution connected to the protest action “Stop-Tax”, scheduled for 27 December by the group “Stop-Tax” in “Vkontakte”, administered by him.

On 27 December activist of Young Christian Democrats Mikalai Verameyenka was detained during the action “Stop-Tax 2” in Hrodna. At first he was stopped and charged with “driving through the same place three times”. When the activist asked to be explained the grounds for the detention, he was told that his car was wanted and he needed to drive to the Hrodna Traffic Police Department. The car was detained by police inspector Hrytskevich, the violation report was drawn up by inspector Dziadziushka. Mr. Verameyenka was detained for three hours. Before his release he demanded that the police specify in the report that his car hadn't taken part in any accident and wasn't wanted.

On 30 December Judge of the Hrodna Kastrychnitski District Court Zinaida Bartsevich sentenced Aliaksandr Ivanou to a fine of 22 basic units for posting information on the Internet about the campaign "Stop-Tax". On 26 December Aliaksandr Ivanou wrote at “Hrodnenski Forum” that motorists, concerned with the new tax on cars, would gather at 6 p.m. on 27 December. As a result, Mr. Ivanou received a telephone call from the police and was told that he was charged with organizing an unauthorized mass event.

On 31 December it became known from the report of Major Zaitsau, sent to first deputy chairman of the Police Department of the Mahiliou Regional Executive Committee Kavalchuk that the police were looking for one of the organizers of the "Stop Tax" in Mahiliou, Aliaksandr Simanovich. A copy of the got to Mahiliou human rights defenders. As it follows from the document, apart from the UCP activist Anton Kastsou (sentenced to 3 days of arrest for violating the order of organizing and holding mass events), the group "Stop Tax" was coordinated by Mahiliou resident Aliaksandr Simanovich. The group “Stop-Fear” in the social network "Vkontakte" was created by him to coordinate the actions of the unauthorized event "Stop Fear".

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

On 3 December Hrodna journalist Ales Dzianisau was officially warned by the Hrodna Regional Prosecutor's Office against working for a foreign media without formal accreditation. Ales Dzanisau was summoned to the prosecutor's office for shooting a video in Svislach and Yakushouka on 27 October, during the traditional remembrance day in honor of the participants of the anti-Russian insurgency of 1863. Last year A. Dzianisau was also served a warning for coming to Svislach festival with a video camera.

On 4 December Hrodna Regional Prosecutor's Office issued an official warning to the member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Ales Kirkevich. Deputy Chairman of the Prosecutor's Office Valery Paviadaika informed him that he had contravened Part 2 of Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code, namely: "the illegal production and distribution of media products". Ales Kirkevich refused to give any explanations on this matter, as well as to sign any papers.

On 4 December Judicial Board on civil cases of the Mahiliou Regional Court considered the appeal of the publisher of the newspaper "Volny Horad" Uladzimir Kudrautsau against the verdict of the Krychau District Court Judge Antanina Kachanava for 22 October 2013 on the lawsuit of the PMC "Cherykau PMK-280" on the protection of business reputation. The Judicial Board ruled that the verdict of Antanina Kachanava was to be set aside due to lack of jurisdiction and the case was to be dismissed. Disputes between a legal entity and an individual, which are associated with the protection of business reputation in the field of entrepreneurial and other economic activities should be considered only by the economic court.

On 9 December the Supreme Court held the second hearing on the lawsuit of the private company "Belsat Plus" to JSC "Polish Television" (SA «TVP»), the founder of the TV channel "Belsat TV". The hearing was attended by the plaintiff, director of "Belsat plus" Andrei Beliakou. The defendant was represented by a lawyer of the Minsk Bar Association Ihar Dziachkou and a representative of "Belsat" in Belarus Mikhail Yanchuk. Mr. Dziachkou asked to be given some time to study the case. He explained that he had received the power of attorney to represent the interests of the defendant only on 6 December, and received the documents after translation and notarization only in the morning of 6 December. The judge granted the petition and appointed the next hearing on 20 January.

On 16 December the results of the inspection conducted by the Investigative Committee of Belarus into the detention of journalists at the railway station in Minsk on 19 October 2013 were given publicity. During the inspection the investigators questioned police officers who had detained the journalists. In particular, policeman of the company of public safety of Minsk SWAT police P. Silvanovich stated he had been ordered to detain suspicious people during the arrival of opposition politician Pavel Seviarynets in Minsk. Together with his partner A. Nabarouski they arrived at the railway platform, at the train “Brest-Moscow was supposed to arrive. According to Mr. Silvanovich, groups of journalists were standing on the platform in small groups. The policemen identified them by video equipment. Then, according to materials of the inspection, the officers approached the identified journalists and detained them "to prevent riots". As a result of the inspection, the Investigative Committee of Belarus concluded that there was no evidence of obstructing the lawful professional activities of journalists by the police. On 19 October ten journalists were detained on the platform of the Minsk railway station.

On 17 December Salihorsk human rights defenders from the Belarusian Helsinki Committee received information about "voluntary-compulsory" subscription to the state-run newspapers at enterprises and organizations of the city – the structural units of "Belaruskali" educational institutions, JSC "Building Trust № 3", JSC " Salihorsk DSC", etc. The list of the newspapers which are “recommended” for subscription remains almost unchanged and largely depends on

on the affiliation of the organizations and institutions with the state bodies. For example, schools are required to subscribe not only to “SB-Belarus Segodnya” and the district newspaper “Shakhtsior”, their teachers are also “advised” to subscribe to “Nastaunitskaya Hazeta” and pupils – to “Yuny Spasatel”. Workers of of “Building Trust № 3" are traditionally required to subscribe to “Budaunik Salihorska” (“Salihorsk Builder”).

On 17 December the member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Mialeshka was summoned to the Hrodna Regional Prosecutor's Office, where he had a conversation with Deputy Chair of the prosecutor's office Valery Paviadaika concerning the report about the Remembrance Day of rebels of 1863, published at the website of the Belarusian Radio “Racyja” under the nickname Ihar Mikalayeu. The report concerned the festivities held in Svislach and Yakushouka on 27 October 2013. Though the authorship of Andrei Mialeshka wasn't officially proved, he was served a formal warning for working for the foreign media without accreditation. This was already third warning served to Hrodna journalists for covering the events in Svislach and Yakushouka. Interestingly enough, the prosecutor's office keeps serving warnings, but doesn't issue any appropriate documents to the journalists.

As it became known on 18 December, the company "Partner-Slonim" Ltd., which owns the premises rented by the editorial office of “Hazeta Slonimskaya” demanded that the editorial office vacate the premises by 1 January 2014 citing the ban on the use of the second floor of the building, issued by the firemen. The editorial office has been located there since 2008. The offices of some private enterprises are also located on the second floor, including the administration of “Partner-Slonim”. All of them are evicted, except for “Partner-Slonim”. Nevertheless, Chief Editor of “Hazeta Slonimskaya” Viktar Valadashchuk doubts the independence of this decision and is sure the action is directed specifically against the newspaper.

On 26 December employees of Palesse State Radiation and Ecological Reserve reported that they were forced to subscribe to the official press. Each department received an order, signed by the ideologist and certified by the director. Heads of departments are responsible for the subscription and must report back to the administration about the work done to provide the subscription to the newspapers. The labor contracts with those who do not subscribe to the official press may not be renewed after their expiry. The people are afraid of the prospective to lose their jobs. They are outraged, but still subscribe to the state-owned press.

Restrictions of freedom of assembly

Five pickets scheduled from 3 to 7 December in Slonim, were banned. The pickets were organized by public activist Ales Masiuk. He seeks opportunities to publicly speak out for the rights of residents of the Slonim district to subscribe to regional newspaper "Hazeta Slonimskaya" in "Belposhta" (“Belarusian Post”, state monopolist on the press subscription) and buy it at the newsstands of "Belsayuzdruk". This time Slonim officials claim that the applicant inaccurately determined the place of the pickets.

On 3 December Brest Regional Court dismissed the appeal of Biaroza human rights defenders, who asked to recognize the illegal the ban on the picket for 4 August and reverse the decision of the Biaroza District Court, which upheld the decision of the executive committee. The reason for the ban was the lack of contracts with the police and the hospital. The district and the regional court did not pay attention to the arguments of the human rights defenders about the impossibility to enter into such contracts. Police referred to regulation of the Council of Ministers No. 207 of 2012, whose paragraph 5 states that within one day after receiving an application for a mass event the executive committee must send a copy of the application to the police for coordination (which wasn't done by the executive committee). The hospital has not entered into a service contract, as it is not provided for in the documents of the Health Ministry and there is no price list for such services.

On 3 December Bykhau writer and journalist Siarhei Antonau received a reply from the local executive committee to his request to the chairman, Dzmitry Kaleyeu, to determine the place for pickets in Bykhau. In response, signed by the deputy chairman of the executive committee N. Shunkina it is stated that "your letter of 21/11/2013 was not considered due to the fact that the its design doesn't meet the requirements of Article 12 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of 18 July 2011 "On Applications of Citizens and Legal Entities". Please also note that the district organization of party BPF "Adradzhenne", as the head of which you signed the application, is not registered on the territory of the Bykhau district. Siarhei Antonau believes that officials of the executive committee found purely formal excuse not to give him a definite answer, noting that the appeal was filed in accordance with the law. To still get such a specific answer, on 4 December, he filed another appeal to the executive committee, but signed it as a private person. On 14 December Mr. Antonau received an answer from the Bykhau District Executive Committee, signed by Deputy Chairman N. Shunkina and reporting that "the draft regulation of the Bykhau District Executive Committee "On Mass Events", which determines the location and order of holding rallies, marches, demonstrations, pickets and other events organized by the political parties, public associations, labor organizations and citizens in the Bykhau district, has been worked out and is being approved. You will be notified about its entry into force." Siarhei Antonau notes that it follows from the answer that the places for mass events and the order of their holding haven't been defined at all.

On 4 December the Leninski District Court of Hrodna considered the appeal of human rights defenders Uladzimir Khilmanovich, Viktar Sazonau and Raman Yurhel against the ban on the picket they intended to hold on 10 October, World Day Against the Death Penalty. The civil case was considered by Judge Volha Shumanskaya in the presence of the prosecutor Sevryna. The defendant, Hrodna City Executive Committee, was represented by Chief Specialist of its Legal Department, Siarhei Tabulevich. Hrodna City Executive Committee said in its official responded that the applicants were required to report in writing fireworks and open fires would be used during the mass event. The officials also considered that the applicants could not "adequately comply with the necessary requirements of the current legislation of the Republic of Belarus to ensure safe conditions for carrying out the claimed mass event and cleaning the territory after its completion". The reasons for such statement became clear during the trial. According to the calculations of the executive committee, allegedly conducted after applications to the Leninski DPD, Hrodna city ambulance station and Hrodna housing and communal service, the applicants were to pay as much as 23,324,000 200 rubles for such services. However, the authorities didn't inform the human rights activists about such absurd sum before the trial. As it was stated at the trial, the picket was to be guarded by 31 policemen for five hours (!), though the time of the picket was just 2 hours and the potential number of participants was just ten people. Predictably enough, the judge sided with the authorities and dismissed the appeal.

On 4 December public activist Viachaslau Bolbat received a letter signed by Deputy Chairman of the Baranavichy City Executive Committee Dz. Kastsiukevich, which reported that the executive committee didn't not permit him to hold a rally on 10 December. The official considers that the applicant violated paragraph 4 of regulation of the executive committee No. 1497 for 16 June 2009 "On the order of events in Baranavichy". As usual, the letter doesn't specify what was violated by the applicant. In his appeal to the executive committee the applicant undertook to secure the public safety, render the necessary medical assistance to participants of the picket and clean the territory after the end of the action himself, as the event was to be attended by just five people. The executive committee regarded it as a violation of its regulation concerning the organization of events, which requires the conclusion of service agreements with the housing and communal services, polyclinic and police.

On 4 December public activist Mikalai Ulasevich wasn't allowed to hold a picket near the consumer services combine in Astravets on 7 December under the slogan "Let's Bring the Corrupt to Justice". The activist intended to draw the attention of the local residents and law enforcement agencies to prevarication and corruption among senior officials of the district. The refusal was signed by First Deputy Chairman of the Astravets District Executive Committee Andrei Yancheuski. The official stated that Mr. Ulasevich violated the requirement of Article 5 of the Law "On Mass Events" to ensure public order and security during mass events, provide the necessary medical assistance and state the sources of funding for the mass event.

On 5 December chief ideologist of the Salihorsk District Executive Committee Mikalai Maskevich forbade local public activists hold a rally on the occasion of the Human Rights Day. According to the official, the contents of the application for holding a mass event on 10 December in the central square does not meet the requirements of Article 5 of the Law "On Mass Events". The ideologist didn't explain which part of the article was violated by the organizers of the picket. The applicants asked the authorities to provide alternative variants for their event in case there were any obstacles. This request was simply ignored by the authorities.

On 6 December 6 Biaroza human rights defenders got a response from the executive committee to their request to explain how it was possible to conclude the contracts with the hospital, public utilities and the police for serving a mass event,while these institutions refuse to enter into such contracts. In particular, the hospital responded to the request to enter into a contract for serving the picket that it did not even have the price list for such services. According to the deputy chair of the executive committee Yauhen Tarasiuk, who signed the response of the executive committee, the price list has been worked out. The public utilities will enter into service agreements irrespective of the ownership of the territory. The need for such clarification arose from the previous answer to the human rights defenders, when the public utilities refused to enter into contracts for serving the pickets for 10 October and 10 November, answering that the applicants were to conclude such agreements with the executive committee, who owned the stadium at which they intended to hold the events. According to Mr. Tarasiuk's answer, the police were first to enter into a service contract with the applicants, after which the executive committee and the police would discuss the details of securing the public order during the event, as it is provided for by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers No. 207.

On 6 December Aliaksei Haurutsikau and Khrystafor Zhaliapau tried to challenge the verdict of the Kastrychnitski District Court of Vitsebsk at the Vitsebsk Regional Court. The Kastrychnitski District Court supported the ban on the procession and rally of solidarity with Ihar Pastnou they intended to hold on 28 September. The regional court sided with the district court and dismissed the appeal. Vitsebsk City Executive Committee, which issued the ban, and the both courts justified their position by referring to the regulation of the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee on mass events. As it was stated in the ban, the applicants failed to attach the contracts for serving their event, which is required by the regulation of the executive committee. However, the regulation mentions only pickets and rallies, not processions. Accordingly, the organizers had the chance to obtain a permit irrespective of this regulation. Aliaksei Haurutsikau stressed that the regulation of the Vitsebsk City Executive Committee No. 881 "On Mass Events in Vitsebsk" was impracticable, because neither the police nor the central city hospital agreed to cooperate until the event was officially permitted by the authorities, whereas the authorities demanded to be presented such contracts first.

On 8 December two pickets dated to the Human Rights Day were banned in Vitsebsk due to the lack of the contracts for serving the events. The Kastrychnitski District Executive Committee of Vitsebsk sent the ban to head of the Vitsebsk city organization of the Belarusian Popular Front Aliaksandr Kuzniatsou, who intended to hold a picket against political repression in the country to express solidarity with political prisoners and demand their immediate release and full rehabilitation. Coordinator of the Movement "For Freedom" in the Vitsebsk region Khrystafor Zhaliapau and activist of the organizing committee of the Social Democratic Party "Narodnaya Hramada" Aliaksei Haurutsikau filed a bid for an event dedicated to the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Pershamaiski District Executive Committee. They applied to the appropriate institutions for obtaining the required service contracts two months before the date of the planned event. The public utilities agreed to enter into a service contract, whereas the police and medics refused to do it. The central city polyclinic responded that it was impossible to conclude such an agreement, as in winter all medical services had to work hard due to mass illness. After the Pershamaiski DPD banned the event, the police responded that they saw no sense in entering into a service agreement, as far as the event had been banned already.

On 8 December the Orsha District Executive Committee banned the rally on 12 December 12 for protection of the park in the neighborhood "Charomushki" where trees were being cut down to build another sky-scrapper. The picket was organized by the public activists Yury Nahorny and Ales Shutau. The reason for the ban was the absence of contracts for securing the public order, medical assistance and cleaning the territory after the end of the event. According to Mr. Shutau, the executive committee requires the applicants to enter into service contracts in advance, whereas the appropriate state institutions agree to conclude such agreements only after the consent of the executive committee to holding the mass event.

On 8 December Vitsebsk human rights activist Pavel Levinau received a ban on the pickets on Human Rights Day. He filed the bids for one-minute pickets to the Kastrychitski, Pershamaiski and Chyhunachny district executive committees. However, the executive committees didn't authorize even these pickets, referring to the lack of the service contracts with the public utilities, medics and police, required by regulation № 881 "On the organization of mass actions in Vitsebsk". However, in this case the requirement seems absurd. Ban on purely symbolic immediate pickets again confirms the fact that the local authorities decided not to allow any public events at any cost.

On 10 December human rights defender Uladzimir Vialichkin applied to Deputy Chair of Brest City Executive Committee H. Barysiuk with a request to eliminate the contradictions contained in the legal acts regulating the procedure for the organization of public events. The application concerned the circumstances of organization of a picket dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, during the preparation if which it was found that the execution of paragraph 5.1 of regulation No. 1210 of of Brest City Executive Committee for 30 June 2011, contracting with the Departments of the Interior of the district administrations of Brest in the place of the mass event for securing the public order during the mass event" is impossible. It contradicts paragraphs 5-8 of Regulation of the Council of Ministers No. 207 for 05 March 2012, which states: "the local executive and administrative bodies within one day from the date the registration of an application for holding mass events, send a copy to the territorial authorit


Instead of securing the public order, officers of law enforcement agencies carried out supervisory and repressive functions, such as displacement of people in underground pedestrian crossing between the entrance to the supermarket, "Central" and Kastrychnitskaya Square, detaining people and evacuation of vehicles. These measures, as well as the presence of a great number of police officers in mufti created obstacles to the realization of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Of particular concern is the inability to identify officers of law enforcement agencies as such due to the absence of uniform and the lack of identification cards on the ones who were dressed in the uniform.

On 27 December there was held the second action of protest against the imposition of duties on cars since 1 January 2014. Calls for this action were disseminated through social networks, no bids for the rally were lodged with the appropriate state institutions. permission for the rally was not supplied. There were registered threats of the road police to impose fines and evacuate the vehicles of the action participants, as well as criminal liability for blocking the traffic. Law enforcement agencies made every effort to prevent the action: participants of the previous ones were punished with huge fines and arrest terms, the administrator of the group in "VKontakte" was detained preventively on the day of the action, the traffic on a part of Nezalezhnasts Avenue was restricted.
restricted movement on the part of Independence Avenue. These methods can be seen as inadequate and disproportionate actions aimed at intimidation and pressure with the aim to restrict the right to freedom of assembly. Instead of securing the public order and safety during the event, officers of law enforcement agencies continued carrying out repressive actions in separate incidents. The road police stopped the cars of the potential participants and the drivers who beeped. At least five cars were stopped. Their drivers were charged with unreasonable use of the alarm signals and creating an emergency situation on the road. One of the detainees beeped when a policeman was crossing the road in an improper place in front of his car. The driver was charged with creating an emergency situation for it. Later, he found that one of his tires got deflated for unknown reasons.

On 28 December public activist Anzhalika Kambalava received a certified letter signed by Deputy Chairman of Baranavichy City Executive Committee Dz. Kastsiukevich, notifying her about the ban on the picket she intended to hold on 30 December to protest against the deployment of the Russian airbase in Baranavichy. The official wrote that the applicant had violated paragraph 4 of regulation of Baranavichy CEC No. 1497 for 16 June 2009. "On the order of events in Baranavichy" by having not entered into service contracts with the police, polyclinic and the police. A. Kambalava wrote in her application that she undertook to secure the public order, provide the medical assistance and clean up the territory after the end of the even, as far as there was just one participant in the picket. She also said she would bring a first aid kit for rendering medical assistance.

On 30 December Salihorsk District Executive Committee banned the rally against the imposition of a tax on cars at the local stadium "Budaunik". The ideologists of the executive committee, who prepared the answer to the application, argue that the organizers of the mass event designated insufficient measures to protect public order, prove medical care during the rally and clean-up after its completion. The organizers of the rally called the answer of the officials incompetent and unlawful. First of all, the ideologists wrote about a ban on a picket, though the bid was filed for a rally with the participation of 200 people. Secondly, the request for assignment of responsibilities for policing, health services and clean-up on the local authorities can't be regarded as insufficient, since it is a common international practice and a direct duty of the state.

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