Week 1: December 19-25, The ElectionDecember 25th, 2010 Theme: Belarus
The presidential elections held in Belarus on December 19, 2010 resulted in harsh repressions and violations. To this day the authorities continue to apply the oppressive rule against democratic civil society. Threatening all democratic structures in the Belarus society.
December 19, Election Day
At the early morning of the Election Day 80 percent of many popular websites such as Gmail, Facebook as well as most independent newspapers and news agencies on Internet, were blocked out. A few days before the election two democratic activists Aleś Pulskin and Kiryl Siemiančuk were already imprisoned for 13 respectively 6 days. Altogether at least ten democratic activists and oppositional observers were preventively sentenced to administrative detention (arrest) in order to prevent them from taking part in any kind of activities or attending peaceful manifestations.
08:00 – Michas Paskievic, activist of the campaign Tell the truth and member of the electoral campaign for Uladzimir Niaklajeu is arrested when leaving his flat and heading for a taxi . Unknown people violently grab him and push him into their car.
Numerous other political activists are surrounded by police and the KGB near their homes and taken away, including Anatol Michnaviec, Maksim Carniak, Palina Dzjakava (the police demanded from her to sign a paper from the Public Prosecutors Office, stating that she would not attend the demonstration), Zmicier Chviedaruk, Mikola Dziemidzienka, Kaciaryna Ludvih, Alaksandr Sierhijennka, Ihar Simbirou, Uladzimier Kumiec, Viacaslau Siucyk, Kasia Halickaja and famous journalist Julia Daraskievic.
Viktar Cajkouski, campaign coordinator for the oppositional candidate Mikalaj Statkievic, was detained by seven policemen while leaving home.
Two political activists from the town of Brest, Valiancin Lazarenkau and Alaksiej Koutun, are violently taken out of the train by KGB and a policeman forces the activists to come to the police station.
Ivan Bedka from the town of Slonim, campaign coordinator for oppositional candidate Vital Rymaseuski, gets via email an official letter from the Public Prosecutors Office with warnings of administrative responsibility (detention or fines) in case he participates in demonstrations in Minsk.
Three campaign coordinators for the democratic opposition from the town of Polack, among them Jauhien Parcynski, as well as coordinators for candidate Mikola Statkievic, Mikalaj Sachnouski and Siarhiej Cabatarou, and coordinators for Uladzimir Niaklajeu, are forced to leave a taxi on their way to Minsk and are brought to the police station.
Famous oppositional businessman Siarhiej Parsiukievic, together with his 16-year-old son, is detained at the train station in Viciebsk in suspicion of murder. As a result they can’t leave town. The same thing happens to another group of activists from the town of Mijory. All of them from the Vital Rymaseuskis team and Uladzimir Niaklajeus organisation Tell the truth. They are stopped by the traffic police when driving to Minsk and are not allowed to continue on suspicion of fake car registration.
In nearby Mahilou, a car with democratic observers and Ihar Kavalenka, Uladzimir Niaklajeus’ coordinator are detained while driving around the region visiting polling stations. Ihar Kavalenka is accused of driving drunk and therefore forced to go to the police station.
Five activists, Jan Stasiuk, Alaksandra Litvincuk, Aksana Maciuk, Maryja Carvinskaja and Jauhien Ivaniuk, are blocked by policemen in a residential building. After the activists refuse to open the door, the police demolish one of two doors and threaten people in order to prevent them from attending the demonstration in the evening.
The total number of preventively detained people in different parts of Belarus is 80-90 individuals. Since the authorities control all the main roads to Minsk, it is possible to block a lot of activists near their homes and to force them out of cars, trains, etc, while they are trying to reach the capital.
09:56 – Campaign coordinator for Vital Rumaseuski and Jury Klimovic, one of the leaders of Belarusian Christian Democracy, who was detained on December 18, was put into a pretrial detention center.
14:53 – The KGB blocks democratic activists from leaving the town of Salihorsk when many of them try to go to the capital. Some people are even trying to hitch-hike but are located by the KGB. Some activists of the Belarusian Popular Front Party (PBF) and Malady Front (MF) are blocked to leave their flats and have no possibility to do so without being detained.
15:14 – The leader of Malady Front (Young Front) Zmicier Daskievic together with his colleagues Eduard Lobau and Dzianis Lazar are arrested and a criminal case is raised against them in suspicion of hooliganism.
17:30 – Paval Ladućka, Coordinator from Uladzimir Niaklajeu’s campaign, is detained by police and violently driven from Minsk to the town of Salihorks (133 km) as a witness of a for him unknown criminal case of burning up the police department in Salihorsk.
18:35 – Three young oppositional activists in the town of Rudziensk Nasta Murashka (BPF), Vika Ladzis (MF) and Arciom Dubski (MF) are assaulted at their homes by KGB.
19:40 – A group of unknown masked people physically assault a group of people from the organisation Tell the truth headed by oppositional candidate Uladzimir Niaklajeu. They violently “lay down” about a hundred people. Niaklajeu is harshly beaten as well as journalist James Hill from the New York Time. Niaklajeu gets a concussion and is unconscious for some time. All the equipment such as microphones and journalists’ cameras are broken. As a result the oppositional leaders are at first not able to make speeches to thousands of people gathered in the Square, during the demonstration. Two reporters, Andrej Lankievic from the newspaper Naša Niva and another from the news agency Belapan, are attacked by unknown people who break or take their cameras.
20:15 – Thousands of people are gathering in the October Square for a peaceful demonstration.
22:02 – A group of unknown people is smashing the entrance of the Parliament of the Republic of Belarus. The door and a window are broken. After some time state TV broadcasts a discrediting report about “the opposition” rioting and destroying the Parliament.
23:05 – Special Forces and Internal Military Service are beginning to arrest and beat participants of the peaceful demonstration.
Hundreds of people are harshly beaten and then arrested. A lot of them are seriously injured and have to go to the hospital.
At least 40.000 people took part in the peaceful demonstrations against election falsifications and manipulations.
23:15 – Oppositional candidates, Mikalaj Statkievic and Ryhor Kastusiou, are heavily beaten; and suffer a concussion. The latter is arrested by police and brought to the police station.
The leader of the United Civil Party is violently grabbed and harshly beaten by Special Forces in Independent Square.
Oppositional candidate from Belarusian Christian Democracy is bleeding and taken to the hospital with serious injuries to his head. Uladzimir Niaklajeu is in intensive care in the neurosurgical department. His state is so serious that the ambulance has to stop on the way to the hospital in order to provide first aid.
23:37 – Oppositional candidate Andrej Sannikau and his wife Iryna Chalip are violently arrested by Special Forces.
Among the arrested is also 12 times European karate champion Sviatlana Čynkina with her husband Andrej, honored trainer of the Belarus national soccer team and their 25 year-old son.
23:55 – A lot of local and foreign journalists are beaten and violently arrested, despite their official accreditations, among them three journalists from Russia, Poland and America, as well as Natalia Radzina, well-known journalist from Charter97, Juraś Karmanau, journalist from Associated Press, Aleś Maciuškou, photographer, Aleh Hruzdzilovič, correspondent from Radio Freedom, Ruslan Harbacou, journalist of newspapers Salidarnasc, and Ales Pilecki from Nasa Niva whose leg is injured. Journalist Jazep Palubiatka is seriously injured. Writer Paval Ancipau is harshly beaten by several men from Special Forces.
23:58 – The police come to the underground station at the Independence Square and starts beating a group of people. The staff at the subway is trying to help defenseless people, but the police roughly brushes them aside. Several representatives from the Belarusian Association of Journalists witness the brutal act.
Many journalists are attacked by Special Forces and especially KGB, demanding them to turn off their cameras. Famous photographer Andrej Lankievič is seriously beaten and afterwards the KGB takes all his equipment. According to information from the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Źmiecier Lukašuk, correspondent from European Radio for Belarus, is violently forced down with his face into the snow. James Hill, already mentioned journalist from New York Times, tries to show international accreditation, but gets several heavy blows to the head. A Russian photographer Alexandr Astafjev from the newspaper Nash Raion from St. Petersburg is detained together with many other journalists, among them Tacciana Bublikava, independent reporter from Belsat News Agency, several Russian correspondents, a journalist from the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Vadzim Zamirouski, photo-journalist from the newspaper Belgazeta. Another member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Illa Kuzniacou, is arrested after having been followed and stopped in his car by police.
According to the first information from the authorities there are 639 arrested.
During the day hundreds of arrested people are convicted for participation in illegal demonstrations or swearing and bad language, and are sentenced to 10-20 days imprisonment or to fines. Prior to Court appearances people are treated with disrespect – the police is beating them on the way to jail. Prisons are so full of prisoners that at least two hundred people spend a lot of time outside during minus degrees, hundreds of arrested are forced to sleep in police cars with no heating or even medical help even though many of the arrested are hurt and bleeding.
A lot of campaign workers and coordinators get arrested all over the country, most of them are convicted for disorderly conduct and sentenced to 12-15 days of imprisonment. Police and KGB refuse to provide information about the arrested.
Dozens of persons are hospitalized with different injuries such as concussion, other kinds of head injuries as well as severe bruises. Some of them have broken legs, arms and knocked out teeth. In spite of this, KGB tries to find all participants of last night’s demonstration, take them away from hospitals and moves them to jail. This happens to most of the people that went to hospital for medical care.
Many campaign coordinators for oppositional candidates are arrested and put into KGB jail, among them Paval Sieviaryniec (Belarusian Christian Democracy) and Andrej Dzmitryjeu (Tell the truth).
During the day KGB officers make numerous searches of the flats of oppositional activists and journalists, in the entire country.
Later after extensive “searches” for Iryna Chalip, journalist from Charter97 and Andrej Sannikau’s wife, she is suddenly “found” in KGB jail.
00:18 – According to one of the arrested there are at least 200 arrested in the yard of Akrescina jail.
00:30 – Several unknown people pick up Uladzimir Niaklajeu, Vital Rymašeuski and Andrej Sannikau from hospital despite their bad conditions. During several days afterwards no one knows where Niaklajeu is and what is happening to him.
00:37 – Special Forces start arresting people walking down the streets in the center of Minsk. Human rights defender Aleh Hulah, chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and one of the leaders of the campaign Human Rights Defenders for Free elections is arrested in the street; he witnesses how police arrests a man and his pregnant wife.
01:05 – The Chief of the Central Police Department in the city of Minsk states officially that all actions by the police and the special forces are legal and according to the law.
02:20 – The office of the campaign Tell the truth is assaulted by KGB.
03:00 – KGB officers assault the office of the Human Rights Organisation Viasna. Ten people are detained. At the same time KGB makes a search. As a result a lot of material about the election observation is confiscated, as well as all computers, cameras and recordings.
03:20 – Special forces assault the office of the campaign Human Rights Defenders for free elections. Eleven Human Rights Defenders are detained. Later in the morning they are released.
Vice-chairwoman of the organisation Malady Front (Young Front), Nasta Palazanka, is violently arrested at her home by the KGB and is accused, according to the criminal law, for organisation and participation in riots.
03:38 – The flat of the leader of the United Civil Party, Anatol Labiedzka, is shattered by police and afterwards he is arrested. Later independent candidate Dzmitry Us is also arrested by KGB.
04:40 – The flat of oppositional candidate Aleś Michalievič is assaulted by KGB and he is arrested.
05:06 – The office of the news agency Charter97 is assaulted. KGB and the doors of the office are smashed down. Journalist Iryna Chalip is violently arrested together with a few volunteers when she is broadcasting news about the repressions.
06:00 – KGB arrives at the flat of Zmicier Bandarenka, coordinator of the civic campaign European Belarus and election campaign for candidate Andrej Sannikau. He is arrested.
06:40 – The famous writer Klimovic, a grandchild of the author of the national anthem, is arrested for participation in the demonstration on December 19.
07:00 – Minister of Internal Affairs Anatol Kulasou, announces that after the protests the Public Prosecutors Office is initiating criminal cases according to article 293 (mass-riots)
Once again several KGB officers arrive at the office of the Human Rights Organisation Viasna and try to open the doors. They leave when the chairman of the organisation arrives at the office.
09:44 – coordinator of civic campaign Tell the truth Andrej Dzmitryjeu is arrested, as well as several other members of this campaign, among them such as famous individuals as the political scientist Alaksandr Fiaduta.
10:14 – The first group of approximately 200 arrestees are transferred to the Court of the October district in Minsk.
10:33 – The police is sealing off the office of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, all inventories are confiscated.
10:49 – The director of underground Belarus Free Theatre, Mikola Chalezin, is arrested by police, his wife being arrested earlier in the Square during the demonstration.
10:53 – Jaraslau Ramancuk, candidate from the United Civil Party is holding a press-conference criticizing oppositional leaders Andrej Sannikau, Vital Rymaseuski and Mikalaj Statkievic for planning of the demonstration in the October Square on December 19 in an irresponsible way and consequently putting people in danger. Therefore, according to Ramanchuk, the opposition has to take responsibility for the “provocative acts”. State media use the statement immediately against the opposition and all participants of the peaceful demonstration. At the same time his statement is strongly criticized by the democratic opposition, which considers it to be a political betrayal. However, many suspect that the authorities have pressured him in order to force him to make this kind of statements.
11:40 – Election observation mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States announce their recognition of the elections as free and democratic.
11:45 – Press-secretary of Uladzimir Niaklajeu, Julia Rymasheuskaja, is arrested and gets 13 days imprisonment. Dzianis Sadouski, democratic activist from Belarusian Christian Democracy, is blocked to leave his flat after several unknown people try to demolish the door.
16:50 – Candidates Dzmitry Us and Ryhor Kastusiou are released.
17:00 – President Lukašenka is holding a first press-conference after the elections. He is criticizing the OSCE for subjectivity and threatens to liquidate all oppositional parties and organisations which participated in the peaceful demonstration on December 19. He also suggests criminal responsibility for independent journalists and more censorship on the Internet. The press-conference is ignored by diplomats from Western and EU countries – who had been invited.
17:49 –Attack at the office of oppositional candidate Aleś Michalevič – following a blockade by KGB and police from early morning. At the time there are three democratic activists on the premises.
18:26 – Once again a small group of people are gathering in the Independence Square in order to protest against falsified elections and repressions against the democratic society. After a few minutes several buses arrive with Special Forces; at least 40 people are being arrested and transferred to jail, among them the son of candidate Ryhor Kastusiou (PBF).
18:55 – Three activists of the campaign Hramadzianin are arrested, among them Viacaslau Dzijanau, Mikita Krasnou and Paval Markaucou, their office is searched by police.
19:30 – Jaraslau Ramančuk, one of leaders of the United Civil Party and presidential candidate, meet Alaksandr Lukašenka after the presidential administration suggested this meeting. According to Ramančuk, the conversation is about the future of the UCP Party and the arrested party leader Labiedźka. President Lukašenka is asking about possible co-operation in the economic sphere. Ramančuk gives a positive answer stating that he has already quite a lot of preliminary projects. In the same way as the press-conference in the morning, the meeting is strongly criticized by the democratic opposition and is used to miss-credit the opposition by state mass media.
19:32 – Candidates from the opposition Andrej Sannikau and Vital Rymašeuski are put into KGB jail.
19:44 – National Committee of the United Civil Party makes an official statement that Jaraslau Ramančuk’s criticism toward the opposition (at the press-conference) contradicts the position of the UCP Party as the National Committee consider it a constitutional right to protest against falsifications during an election by holding peaceful demonstrations. The repressions initiated during the election day by the authorities are criminal acts, the National Committee concludes.
23:10 – The US administration has already informed Belarusian officials about its non-recognition of the elections demanding release of all political prisoners.
23:31 – Police officer Alaksandr Klasouski, with injuries to his head, tries side by side with the peaceful demonstrators to persuade the Special Forces not to use brutal violence against their own people. His flat is assaulted and Klasouski himself is arrested by three KGB officers. According to his wife and sister, during the arrest the KGB officers ware harshly beating Klasouski. The KGB confiscates computer, cameras and flash cards. The next day the state TV broadcast news including discrediting information about the former police officer, who during his career has actually received many awards.
The wave of arrests of democratic activists and journalists continues, among them Arciom Dubski, Michail Paskievic (Tell the truth), Uladzimier Kobiec (Sannikau’s team). Already 601 arrested people have been convicted, mostly for participation in illegal demonstration, 580 people are convicted for imprisonment up to 15 days, and others are fined. Most Court sessions are being held behind closed doors.
Due to unknown circumstances, State Television broadcasts an interview with the chairman of Uladzimir Niaklajev’s election campaign Andrej Dzmitryjeu after he has been arrested and put into KGB’s jail. In the interview he states, after thanking the police for its efforts, that it was not the police’s fault that Niaklajeu and other members of the campaign Tell the truth were seriously beaten – by the police. The statement causes discussions in the democratic society. Many suspect possible pressure on behalf of the KGB. The Ministry of Justice makes a statement about possible liquidation of the oppositional parties that participated in the “illegal” demonstration after the elections.
There are already 18 individuals suspected of being part of illegal riots, among them six oppositional candidates, journalists, a political scientist, a former police officer and campaign coordinators.
In the evening Franak Viačorka, activist of the democratic movement organizes a campaign of solidarity with imprisoned people, dozens of persons take part.
Jaraslau Ramančuk’s nephew Artur is though convicted to ten days of imprisonment. The reason for his “amnesty” is the fact that he’s studying abroad.
KGB prolongs Aleś Michalevič’s imprisonment with ten more days. Many of the arrested activists in KGB’s jail are denied to meet their lawyers.
KGB makes searches at the homes of numerous democratic campaign coordinators, confiscating computers and materials in connection to election observation. More people are getting arrested, among them Siarhiej Marcaleu from the news agency Belsat and coordinator for the election campaign of Mikalaj Statkievič. Sviatlana Nosava, a 25 year-old democratic activist with head-injury, severe bruises and a seriously injured eye is taken from the hospital by KGB. She is convicted to ten days imprisonment.
The lawyers of arrested oppositional candidates Niaklajeu, Andrej Sannikau, Aleś Michalevič and others’ are protesting against the difficulties caused by KGB to meet their clients. A complaint is sent to the Public Prosecutors Office in Minsk.
Belarusian Helsinki Committee sends a claim to Court, to cancel the election result. Still there is no information about Uladzimir Niaklajeu.
KGB makes new searches and assaults at the places of democratic activists, among them are Alaksandr Fiaduta, whose flat is searched by KGB officers and according to his wife, four officers take the computer and flash cards. The office of candidate Dzmitry Us is searched by KGB, all equipment and documentation is confiscated. At the same time the flat of Human Rights Defender Alena Talkačova is being assaulted by KGB.
Dozens of people are gathering in Minsk near one of the prisons where political prisoners are held, in order to show their solidarity. The police warn participants that the action is illegal and that they have to leave. When participants start leaving a police bus arrives and five individuals are arrested.
13 women who got arrested during the peaceful demonstration after the elections announce a hunger strike because of unacceptable bad conditions in prison.
Social Services are trying to take away Andrej Sannikau and Iryna Chalip’s young son, claiming that none of them are with the kid.
KGB searches continue at the places of democratic activists, among them Human Rights Defender Alaksiej Kalucki from the town of Maladziečna; father of journalist Iryna Chalip, Uladzimir Chalip; Human Rights Defender Aleh Voučak; democratic activist Paval Batujeu in the town of Salihorsk; the office of the UCP Party in Minsk; democratic activist Viačaslau Siučyk; Human Rights Defender Taciana Raviaka, who’s responsible for independent election observation; and many other families of arrested people.