Week 43, October 11-17

October 17th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

The last case on “mass riots”, in regards to the presidential election in 2010, is up for consideration in Court. In addition the authorities introduce amendments to the Belarusian legislation in order to constrict conditions for public and political activities in Belarus, giving unlimited power to the KGB.

October 11

Viktar Meziak, Chairman of the organizing committee of the People’s Assembly in Baranavichy, is fined 350,000 Belarusian roubles (about 45€). He is accused of putting up posters with an invitation to participate in the People’s Assembly(Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code).

Baranavichy City Executive Committee bans a picket in support of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister and current opposition leader, made by activists from the United Civil Party and the Movement For Freedom. The authorities claim that “the aim of the picket can be considered as interference with the internal affairs of a neighbour country”.

October 12

The Maskouski District Court in the City of Minsk considers the case of Sviataslau Baranovich, the last person accused of the “mass riots” of December 19. He is found guilty of participating in the “mass riots” and sentenced to three years probation.

Ales Kirkevich and Veranika Velihor, democratic activists from the youth organisation Malady Front (Young Front) , are fined 350,000 Belarusian roubles (about 45€) by the Leninski District Court in Hrodna. The activists were detained in the night of September 17, while posting leaflets about a silent protest action. Following the detention, the police also confiscated Ales Kirkevich’s laptop, carried out a search in Veranika Velihor’s flat and confiscated some of her belongings.
Valery Sliapukhin, democratic activist from Homiel, is fined 1 400 000 Belarusian roubles (about 180€) by the Chyhunachny District Court in the City of Homiel. He is accused in accordance with Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code, “violation of the order of organizing and holding mass events”. Sliapukhin was part of the People’s Assembly.

October 13

The authorities introduce legislative amendments in order to constrict the conditions for public and political activities, giving unlimited power to the KGB.

The draft law confirms the amendments to a number of laws forbidding protests without permission and imposing criminal responsibility for foreign financing of NGOs.

Besides, the draft law bans “activities of non-governmental organisations and public unions aimed at granting benefits and privileges to the citizens of Belarus by foreign states in connection with their political and religious views or nationality in violation of the law”.

The draft law also states that “republican and local NGOs and unions cannot hold cash, precious metals or other valuables in banks and non-bank credit companies located in foreign states”.

One of the amendments states that: “Money or other property received by political parties, unions and legal bodies, who created them from sources forbidden by the present article shall be delivered to the state budget. In case of a refusal to voluntarily give these means to the state; they are recovered for the state treasury by judicial proceedings on the request of the governmental bodies responsible for monitoring the proper use of foreign grant aid”.

A number of amendments to the Criminal Code were made, including article 356 “Treason”and article 358 “Espionage”.

Articles of the Criminal Code regarding foreign grant aid, receiving foreign grant aid in violation of Belarusian laws and violation of order by organising and holding mass events were amended.

Valery Staurou, engineer and Vitsebsk resident, stands before the Vitsebsk District Court being accused of “insubordination to lawful demands of police officer” in accordance with the article 23.4 of the Administrative Code Offenses, “insubordination to lawful demands of police officer”.
The administrative case was initiated after Valery Staurou refused to be fingerprinted several times.

Ales Masiuk, participant of the People’s Assembly on October 8, is fined 175 000 Belarusian roubles (about 23€) by the Slonim District Court for participating in an unauthorised event.

Yauhen Makuta, oppositional activist of the democratic movement For Freedom, is fined 17 500 Belarusian roubles (about 2€) for posting leaflets with a call to take part in a silent protest. The activist was detained on September 21 and accused in accordance with article 21.14, part 2 of the Administrative Code.

October 14

The Prosecutor’s General Office initiates a criminal case against Siarhei Mikhalok, famous Belarusian musician and leader of the Lyapis Trobetskoymusic band. Mikhalok can be punished for his audacious remarks criticizing the authorities.

The case is opened by the Prosecutor’s Office in the Central District of Minsk. Siarhei Mikhalok is charged with insulting president Lukashenka.

Siarhei Mikhalok has recently given some scandalous interviews, which caused hatred among the Belarusian authorities. In an interview with the Internet TV channel 1tvnet.ru, Siarhei Mikhalok said the following:

“He is not a president. He gathered “black” brigades around him and carries out genocide of Belarusians”. “He is a man that hates his nation. In best case, he deserves a fair trial. But such criminals as Lukashenka do not leave witnesses of their crimes.”

Alena Skebunova, independent journalist of the Charter97 news agency, is called to an interrogation at the General Prosecutor’s Office in Mahiliou on “insulting remarks” about the judge of the Leninski district court in Mahiliou on the website charter97.org on July 7 2011.

On October 13 another independent journalist, Alina Skrabunova, was questioned in connection with this case.

The judge Iryna Lanchava has delivered numerous guilty verdicts to independent journalists.

October 15

Tatsiana Kasataya, democratic activist of the civic campaign Tell the Truth, is expelled from the Hrodna State Yanka Kupala University where she studied at a post-graduate level.

Earlier in September, Tatsiana Kasataya was fired from the Hrodna State Historical and Archaeological Museum. The formal reason was the expiry of the contract. In fact, Tatsiana Kasataya was an active participant of the electoral team of Uladzimir Niakliayeu during the presidential elections 2010. During that time, the museum manager, Yury Kiturka, openly threatened her with dismissal from her working place.

Kastus Zhukouski, oppositional activist and organiser of the People’s Assembly in Homiel, is being forced to attend an interrogation at the Central District Police Department concerning the People’s Assembly. Kastus Zhukouski was recently detained and served 15 days in prison.

October 16

Viktar Buzinayeu, member of the organising committee of the People’s Assembly in Babruisk on October 8, is called for an interrogation at the local Police Department. According to information from the Police, he is called for an interrogation as a witness on an administrative violation concerning the People’s Assembly. Viktar Buzinayeu took an active part in the manifestation on October 8 and, therefore, he was arrested by the police, but later released without any charges.
Viktar Ivashkevich, well-known politician and co-chairman of the organizing committee to hold the People’s Assembly, is fined 1 400 000 Belarusian roubles (about 180€) by the Savietski District Court in Minsk in accordance with article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of order in organising or holding a mass event or a picket).

October 17

Kastus Shytal, independent journalist, is found guilty of “disorderly conduct” and fined 105 000 Belarusian roubles (about 13€). According to the Police officers, the journalist used foul language when policemen stopped him for a check-up.

Kastus Shytal was detained and spent two days in the local pre-trial prison.
Anzhalika Kambalava, member of the People’s Assembly organising committee, is fined 350,000 Belarusian roubles (about 45€). She is found guilty of alleged violation by mass events procedures, while charged with illegal distribution of leaflets inviting people to take part in the People’s Assembly on October 8.

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