Week 44, October 18-24

October 24th, 2011   Theme: Belarus

The Council of Republic adopts amendments to law “On Mass Events” at a closed session, in two readings at one time. According to the changed law organisers of a mass event have no rights to announce the date, time and place until they receive an official permit, this includes announcements on the Internet.

October 18

Vital Pratasevich, democratic activist from Homiel and one of the organisers of silent protests in his city, is beaten by a group of unknown persons wearing masks outside his house. The activist received numerous blows and had to seek medical aid.

Valantsin Stefanovich, well-known human rights defender from the organisation for human rights Viasna, is fined 4 727 330 (about 605€) by the tax inspection of Minsk Partyzanski District for alleged understating of his income.

During the sitting of the tax inspection’s commission, Valiantsin Stefanovich argued that the materials dealing with transactions by the SEB bank had not been translated in full; in particular, information on the purposes of transfers from the Netherlands office of Amnesty International were presented in English only. However, the objection was dismissed.

Valiantsin Stefanovich says the money transferred to his bank account in Lithuania is not his personal income and therefore it is not liable to taxation.

Halina Smirnova, activist of the United Civil Party’s Babruisk office, is charged with involvement in an unauthorised mass event after participating at the People’s Assembly. The activist supposes that the charges deal with her earlier detention during the People’s Assembly promotion campaign, when she also faced administrative charges.


October 19

Salihorsk Town Executive committee bans a picket against torture reportedly used against Zmitser Dashkevich, political prisoner and chairman of the youth organisation Malady Front (Young Front).
The official ban refers to the applicants’ failure to meet the requirements of Par. 6 article 5 of the Mass Events Code.


October 20

Aliaksandr Paluian, human rights activist and editor-in-chief of the Belarusian LGBT web-site www.gayby.net, is fired by the management of the Minsk office of an international company after his active work on protection of the rights of minorities in Belarus.

Maksim Viniarski, coordinator of the European Belarus movement, and Andrei Mouchan, democratic activist, are detained by the Police on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk during a solidarity action with the political prisoners. Maksim Viniarski is taken to the Central District Police Department and is charged in accordance with the article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (“violation of mass event organizing procedures”). Earlier today, the activist received an official warning of possible prosecution in case of involvement in the unauthorised rally.

Fiodar Mirzayanau, the pardoned convict in a so called “mass riot” criminal case, is arrested by the Police officers in his flat in Minsk and taken to the Leninski District Police Department as a witness in a criminal case, as quoted by a police representative.

Siarhei Kazakou, oppositional activist, is arrested by the Policemen during the solidarity action in the centre of Minsk.

Democratic activist and former political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou is also arrested by the Police officers during the solidarity action.


October 21

The Council of Republic adopts amendments to law “On Mass Events” at a closed session, in two readings at one time.
The document makes the rules for conducting mass events much more complicated. Any gathering of citizens should be sanctioned by the authorities, this concerns also flash-mob actions and gatherings of citizens organised through the Internet.

Organisers of a mass event have no right to announce the date, time and place until they receive an official permit, and this includes the Internet. Also, people who have violated the order of conducting mass events cannot organisers for one year.

October 23

Aliaksandr Ziankou, independent press photographer, is arrested while taking pictures of a hunger-strike by Barysau housing department employees. The journalist’s photo equipment is confiscated by the Police.

Siarhei Charniak, democratic activist from Minsk, is sentenced to five days in prison by the Central District Court for participating in an unauthorised Solidarity action on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk.

Aliaksandr Valantsevich , oppositional activist, is sentenced to 7 days of imprisonment. According to a police report, he was detained for using a megaphone to advertise another solidarity picket. He had to spend the weekend at Minsk detention centre and went on hunger-strike while in detention.

Vital Pratasevich, democratic activist from Homiel, is sentenced to 10 days of imprisonment by the Central District Court for staging an unauthorised picket of solidarity with prisoners of conscience.

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