Week 11: March 1-7

March 11th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

Third trial of six arrested activist takes place in accordance with the criminal case in “mass riots”. The authorities revoke the license of a well-known lawyer.

March 1, 2011

Third trial of six arrested activist takes place in accordance with the criminal case in “mass riots”. Among the activists who stand before the Court are two Russian citizens, Ivan Gaponov and Artyom Breus. But also Dzmitry Miadzviedz, entrepreneur, Alaksandr Atroščankau, press secretary of the oppositional candidate Andrej Sannikau, as well as Dzmitry Novikau and Alaksandr Malcanau. The Court proceedings for the two Russians and Dzmitry Miadzvedz are postponed until March 10. Further proceedings will continue on March 2.
Natalia Radzina, journalist of the democratic news agency Charter97 was taken from her home and detained by the Police. She was later released from the Police station. It should be noticed that she has commented the yesterday’s statement of the oppositional candidate Ales Michalevic on torture in the KGB jail.
An application from Tell the truth to arrange a picket in support of political prisoners was denied by local authorities in Slutsk. The authorities argued that as there are no political prisoners, no such rally could be organised.
The family of the imprisoned chairman of the UCP Party, Anatol Labiedzka, is concerned as none of them have received any news or letters from him for the last two weeks. At the same time, the prison administration has refused to let the family meet him.
The authorities in the town of Navapolack issue their third ban on pickets and manifestations. Activists from the Independent Trade Union were planning to arrange a picket to protest against the administration of the town’s biggest enterprise Naftan’s refusal to cooperate with the Union. Previously local authorities have prohibited two arrangements by the opposition, such as solidarity actions with the arrested and harshly beaten participants of the demonstration on December 19.
Democratic activist Maksim Ancypovic, is punished with a fine of 525.000 Belarusian rubles (about 132 €) by Leninski court in Mahilou for participating in an approved solidarity action of on January 16.
The trials of Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, Dzmitry Novik and Aliaksandr Malchanau start at the Frunzenski District Court of Minsk. The three of them participated in the demonstrations on December 19. Aliaksandr Malchanau is charged with tearing down two state flags from the KGB building on Nezalezhnastsi Street, 17, Minsk. In addition, he and Dzmitry Novik and Aliaksandr stand trial for having kicked out the entrance doors of a Governmental building. In a summary of the trials, which can be found at http://spring96.org/en/news/41566, the Human Rights organization Viasna notes that none of the actions of the accused inflicted any damage upon the governmental building.

March 2

An incident occurs between Uladzimir Niaklajeu and his wife and the KGB officers in charge of watching him during the house arrest. When Niaklajeu is to be taken for questioning, the officers refuse to leave his flat. The Niaklajeu family complains since previously, the KGB has always left the flat when Uladzimir Niklajeu left it for interrogation. As a result of the incident, Niaklajeu’s state of health deteriorates and an emergency doctor is called in. The interrogation is being postponed.
The KGB continues to carry out interrogations of political activists. Alaksandr Silkou, is questioned by KGB as a witness in the criminal case of “mass riots” on December 19, 2011, despite that he did not participate in the demonstration after the elections. At that time, he was coordinating independent election observation.
Taisija Kabancuk, activist from the Belarusian Christian Democracy, is questioned by KGB in Babrujsk.

March 3

Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, Dzmitry Novik and Aliaksandr Malchanau are sentenced to three and four years of imprisonment.
Alyaksandar Atroshankau, used to work for the news agency Charta97 and was the press secretary to Andrey Sannikau, presidential candidate. He is sentenced to four years imprisonment to be served in an institution of high security. Dzmitry Novik, participant at the demontration of December 19, and Alyaksandar Malchanau, political activist, were convicted of the same “crime” to three respectively three and a half years of hard labor.
A letter sent to the biggest mass media has become a topic for debate among the Belarusian civil society. The letter has the form of a black list and names of art workers and music-bands from Belarus, Russia and a few other countries, which are not to be mentioned in Belarusian media. The letter has an unofficial character and officials refuse to comment it. However, some time later, a concert in Homiel by the Belarusian band Lyapis Trubetskoy, one of the groups on the list, is cancelled by local authorities.

March 4

The authorities revokes the license of a well-known lawyer, Paval Sapielka, who defended several political prisoners, such as Andrej Sannikau – oppositional candidate, Paval Sieviaryniec – one of leaders of the Belarusian Christian Democracy, and Zmiecier Daskievic – leader of the youth organization Malady Front (Young Front). The lawyer is known since long for defending political prisoners. In addition, he has been involved in several high profile cases against oppositional activists in Belarus. According to The Ministry of Justice, the reason for expelling Paval Sapielka from the Board of Lawyers of Minsk is that “he did not ensure the rights of political prisoners”.
The health state of the political prisoner Zmiecier Bulanau, who was arrested close to the Parliament on December 19, has become worse. His mother, Klaudzija Bulanava, finally manages to grant her son medical attention in jail. Due to the prison administration’s hesitance to give Zmiecier Bulanau proper medical care, his condition has become serious. He suffers from extensive feet oedema which for long periods prevents him from standing, and from pains in the joints.

March 5

Kastus Sytala, activist and journalist in the town Hlybokaje, is accused for violating of electoral law. An independent election observer during the presidential elections, Kastus Sytala has continued to reports from the aftermath of the elections. The trial is due on March 9. Kastus Sytala risks fines or court deterrence.
Ales Michalevic, former presidential candidate, is interrogated by the KGB for the first time after his reports on torture while in custody in the KGB jail. After the interrogation, Ales Michalevic and his lawyer found out that his interrogation had been recorded on a hidden camera and that the KGB is to make a film about the oppositional ex-candidate for state TV.

March 7

The KGB continues to deny visits by family and relatives in jail. The eldest daughter of oppositional ex-candidate Uladzimir Niaklajeu together with her young daughter tries to meet with her father but is turned down by the KGB. Previously Uladzimir Niaklajeu’s younger daughter, Eva, was prevented from seeing her father and Maryna Adamovic, wife to Mikola Statkievic, oppositional social-democratic candidate, wasn’t allowed to meet her husband despite having received no news or letters from him.

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