Week 27, June 21-27

June 27th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

Thousands of people gather on the central squares in towns across the country for a “silent protest”.

June 21

The Superior Economic Court of the City of Minsk dismisses an appeal from the Belarusian Popular Front Party (BPF) to continue its work in the current head quarters also after the authorities refused to prolong the rental agreement.

The decision means that the BPF Party must leave the office immediately – after working there for over 20 years. In addition the decision means that the party may be closed down as, according to the law, an organisation must have a legal/registered address in order to be registered. The liquidation of Belarus’ oldest democratic force is the continuation of the repressions against the democratic society. The office of the BPF Party has always been a zone of freedom for thousands of people and is sometimes called “the Island of freedom”. After the elections on December 19, the PBF Party founded the movement Vyzvalennie (Release) in order to help all political prisoners and demand their immediate release. The liquidation of the BPF Party may lead to new arrests since, according to the law, individuals acting in the name of an unregistered organisation risk two years of imprisonment.

June 22

Nine students in Vaukavysk, previously arrested for participating in one of the silent protest held in several Belarusian towns, are interrogated by local KGB.

The students were detained on June 15 together with four additional participants of the Revolution through Social Network and were later released without charges.

The KGB in Hrodna confiscates the assets of Andrej Paczobut, well-known journalist at Poland’s largest newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. The journalist is kept in custody, accused of insulting and defaming Alaksandr Lukashenka in articles in Gazeta Wyborcza and on his blog. Andrej Paczobut is charged with violating two articles of the Criminal Code, 358, part 1 (insult) and 367, part 1 (libel) of the president. The first article carries a punishment of up to two years in prison, the second one up from two to four years.

The Hearing of an appeal by Iryna Chalip, the wife of presidential candidate Andrej Sannikau and famous independent journalist, is postponed for a month by the Minsk City Court.

June 23

Zmicier Bandarenka, an oppositional activist held as a political prisoner sentenced to two years of prison after participating in the demonstration on December 19, 2010, is brought to a hospital. After the arrest, his health state has gradually deteriorated. Zmicier Bandarenka’s right leg is semi paralyzed and he suffers from a constant pain. According to the political prisoner, his condition has spread to his left leg as well.

Sviataslau Baranovic, joins the list of people accused of “mass riots” on December 19. Sviataslau Baranovic is charged with participation in “mass riots” under Part Two of the Criminal Code’s Article 293, and is currently kept in custody at a detention in Minsk.

Jauhien Kucko, blogger in Lida, is fined to 700 000 Belarusian rubles (about 100€) for “insulting Andrej Chudyka , former chairman of the Lida district executive committee and the deputy chairman of the Hrodna region executive committee”.

Initially, Jauhien Kucko was accused of insulting and libel under a criminal article. However, after a philological expert evaluation of his work and a public apology to Andrej Chudyka, the case was reframed as minor.

Thousands of people gather on the central squares in towns across the country for a “silent protest”. This was part of the “Revolution through social network!” – an initiative on the social network site Vkontakte which calls on citizens to gather at the square every Wednesday at 7.00 p.m. to demand economic

and political changes in the country. More than 460 people, among them 19 journalists, are detained in about 15 cities. Some of them are beaten by the special police forces and brought to hospitals.

Uladzimir Cielapun, human rights defender from Mazyr, is detained with around 20 others during a silent protest on the central square. They are later released without charges.

June 24

The participants of yesterday’s silent protests across the country are trialed, accused of disorderly conduct in accordance with the article 17.1 of the Belarusian law. Most of the participants are fined from 70,000 (about 10€) up to 1,050,000 (about 150€) Belarusian roubles. Some of the arrested people are interrogated by the KGB.

June 25

Ihar Bancar, independent journalist from Hrodna, receives another two charges in accordance with the Belarusian law: petty hooliganism and disobedience to the police. The journalist was arrested near the building of the Leninski District Court of Hrodna. Ihar Bancar came to the court in order to support his friend Andrej Paczobut, a journalist of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

The Minsk City Court dismisses several appeals of sentenced oppositional activists within the criminal case of “mass riots” after the demonstration on December 19, 2010. The judge declines appeals of Pavel Vinahradau, Ales Kirkevic, Dzmitry Drozd, Alaksandr Pratasenia and Uladzimir Chamicenka. The process was attended by representatives from OSCE.

The state prosecutor asks the Court to sentence Andrej Paczobut, famous journalist of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, to three years in prison. The judge, however, postpones the trial until June 28.

June 26

Dzmitry Surchaj, regional co-ordinator of the Belarusian Christian Democracy in the same town, is called to the local General Prosecutor’s Office for a “preventive conversation” on June 27 before the silent protest on Wednesday.

June 27

Piotr Filon, democratic activist in Homiel, is detained by local police after posting an appeal to KGB agents on his account on the social network Vkontakte: “Comrades Officers, I am going to quit the job anyway. So I am begging you not to ruin my life and the lives of my relatives.” The court fined Piotr Filon 105,000 (about 15 €).

The KGB warns Nasta Valavikova, democratic activist and participants of the protests from Mahilou, for distributing leaflets promoting the oncoming silent protest on June 29. The activist was warned of possible prosecution, which may result in a fine or up to 3 years in prison.

The Special Police Forces disrupt the celebration of Kupalle, the traditional Belarusian midsummer holiday, at the river Druc near Bialynicy. The celebration is attended by dozens of people from the region as well as the rest of Belarus. After the tents are raised, the police appear, claiming that the participants have violated regulation aimed at preventing forest fires. The police fine several participants 700,000 to 800,000 Belarusian rubles and give them two hours to leave threatening that they will otherwise use force.

Siarhiej Aleksijevic, local democratic activist in Brest, is called to the local Prosecutor’s Office where he is threatened with charges for “promoting regime change by anti-constitutional means” participating in the silent protests.

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