Week 26, June 14-20

June 20th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

Andrej Poczobut, well-known correspondent of Poland’s largest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in Belarus, stands before Leninski District Court in Hrodna in a closed trial. The General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus initiates a criminal case against Jauhien Lipkovic, famous Belarusian blogger, for insulting the state flag in his blog.

June 14

Andrej Poczobut, well-known correspondent of Poland’s largest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza in Belarus, stands before Leninski District Court in Hrodna in a closed trial. The journalist is charged in accordance with two articles of the Criminal Code of the Belarusian Law: Article 368, part 1, “insulting of president”, and Article 367, part 1 “libel against president”, and faces 2-4 years in prison. He has been in custody for about two months prior to the trial. The judge postpones the trial until June 23.

The local authorities of Haradok and Viciebsk prohibit civil activists to arrange a peaceful picket demanding the Belarusian government step down. The authorities say neither the site near the Summer Amphitheatre in Viciebsk, nor Central Square in Haradok, are included in the list of areas identified for public events.

Some 15 participants at a spontaneous protest against new unlawful customs fees are found guilty in participating in an unauthorised action by Hrodna Regional Court and fined from 2,450,000 (about 350€) up to 2,625,000 (about 375€) Belarusian roubles. The protest took place on June 12 at the border crossing point Bruzgi in the Hrodna region. More than 100 people held hands and blocked the terminal. In the culmination moment the drivers started singing the national anthem. The action was dispersed by riot police using tear gas and police gear. 22 protesters were detained.

The KGB searches the flat of Ivan Stasiuk, democratic activist from Brest. Ivan Stasiuk, also well-known as an Internet activist, was detained on June 4 in Brest on his way from Poland. The KGB drove him from the railway station and questioned him for three hours on his activities in social networks.

Ihar Bancar, independent journalist in Hrodna, is detained by local Police. The real reason of the detention is unknown as the Police refuses to discuss the case.

June 15

The General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Belarus initiates a criminal case against Jauhien Lipkovic, famous Belarusian blogger, for insulting the state flag in his blog. According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, on September 25, 2010, and May 5, 2011, several offensive photo montage pictures of the flag of the Republic of Belarus, were uploaded to Jauhien Lipkovic’s blog. The blog has previously been blocked from computers at at state enterprises and institutions.

Ivan Stasiuk, democratic activist from the town of Brest, is detained by the local Police and brought to the Maskouski District Police Department. The activist has been detained several times and had his flat searched by the KGB.

June 16

Ina Sangazhyeva, member of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee from Russia and Volha Shamshur, member of the same human rights organisation from Ukraine, are refused to enter Belarus. The human rights defenders flew to Minsk from Frankfurt for personal purposes but were rejected entry to the country. Ina Sangazhyeva and Volha Shamshur are forced to immediately leave the country.

Ihar Bancar, independent journalist and activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, is sentenced to five days in prison. Ihar Bancar is found guilty of disorderly conduct. His trial is held at the Police Department and neither his relatives nor any journalists are allowed to enter the building, save a journalist from the Belarusian news agency Belapan. Ihar Bancar was detained on June 14 and kept in custody awaiting the trial.

June 17

The Minsk City authorities approve proposition #1554 on authorised rally locations in the city centre. In reality, the decision means a ban on any sort of mass events or peaceful protest in most of the places in central Minsk. According to the latest list published by Minsk City authorities, there are only three authorized places – all outside of the city centre.

More people stand trial in Hrodna after participating in a protest against new customs fees on June 12 at the border crossing point Bruzgi in the Hrodna region. Several people were summoned to the Court after the Police identified them on photos and videos from the event. About a dozen of people are fined to 1,050,000 Belarusian roubles (about 150€).

Siarhiej Androsienka, civil activist of the LGBT movement GayBelarus, is detained during a peaceful demonstration in Minsk. Three hours later, the activist is released after being severely beaten. The activist receives serious face injuries after being beaten by several Policemen in an attempt to force him to withdraw his claims of police violence during the arrest. They stop the assault only after he says he has no claims against them.

At least 240 demonstrators are detained on Wednesday, at a rally “Revolution through Social Network” across the country on June 15. Violence was reportedly used during the arrests. The detained include several journalists – European Radio for Belarus reporter Pavel Sviardlou, Brestskaya Gazeta reporters Stanislau Karsunou and Zmicier Bosak, chief editor of the Vitsebsk People’s News web-site Siarzuk Sierabro, Komsomolskaya Pravda reporter Pavel Mickievic, BelaPAN reporter Jauhen Suchaverchi.

June 18

Ivan Stasiuk, democratic activist from Brest, is sentenced to ten days in prison. The court found Ivan Stasiuk guilty in violating two articles of the Belarusian Administrative Code: 17.1 (disorderly conduct) and article 23.4 (disobedience to a police officer).

The Minsk City Court dismisses the appeals lodged by Young Front leaders Zmicier Daskevic and Eduard Lobau against earlier verdicts, which sentenced them to 2 and 4 years of imprisonment, respectively.

Ruslan Uscimienka, participant of the peaceful rally “Revolution through Social Network” from the town of Homiel, is detained and found guilty according to the article 17.1 of the Administrative Code. He is accused of shouting out “anti-state slogans using bad language”. The Court sentenced Ruslan Uscimienka to 770.000 Belarusian roubles (about 110€).

June 19

The United Nations Human Rights Council vote to condemn the human rights violations before, during, and after the December 2010 presidential election in Belarus.

The resolution “urges the Government of Belarus to end politically motivated persecution and harassment of opposition leaders, representatives of civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers, independent media, students and those defending them.”

The Council also urges the Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners, respect freedoms of expression and association, and “cease the detention and expulsion of international monitors.”

Aleh Kraiko, Illja Bahdanau and Andrej Dubrouski, democratic activists from the Belarusian Christian Democracy, are detained in Navapolack. The activists were going to take part in a match of disagreement dated for the 6-months anniversary of the presidential election.

June 20

Jauhien Kanstancinau, democratic activist and previously member of Andrej Sannikau’s election campaign for President in 2010, stands trial in Navapolack. The activist is accused of disorderly conduct in accordance with the article 17.1. Before the detention, the activist’s flat was searched. He spent two nights in jail awaiting his trial.

The Council of the European Union imposes new sanctions against the Belarusian regime of president Lukashenka. It imposes travel restrictions and assets freeze on several key persons. In addition, the Council decided to impose an embargo on Belarus on arms and materials aimed for internal repression. Finally, it decided to freeze assets of three companies linked to the regime.

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