In newsletter no. 5/2012 you can read about a number of important elections that will take place during the fall of 2012: In Belarus, Ukraine, Venezuela and Georgia.

Hopes run high that the elections in Georgia will be entirely up to international standards. Expectations are also raised that the (almost) united opposition in Ukraine will breathe fresh life into the country’s dwindling democracy and that Henrique Capriles win the presidential elections in Venezuela. Though, the hopes are low for the elections in Belarus, where President Lukashenko is further cementing his authoritarian regime.

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May 24-27, youth politicians from Eastern Europe and Sweden met at Hotel Utsikten in Nynäshamn, Sweden, to discuss Principles for a Free Society. The 21 participants, representing center-right political parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, discussed their countries’ and the regions’ challenges together with their Swedish counterparts. The conference was chaired by professor Nigel Ashford from the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University in Washington DC. (more…)

During the weekend, two leading Belarusian oppositional activists were released from prison. Both had been detained and sentenced to prison in according with the “mass riots” criminal case after the presidential elections on December 19, 2010. (more…)

Russia will not allow Belarusian oppositional politicians, journalists, aso, to enter the country. Up until this time the Belarus opposition  - individuals who are banned from leaving Belarus – have been able to use Russia as transit hub to travel abroad. (more…)

Today the Council of the Europian Union introduced new restrictions again the Belarusian regime.

The Europian Union has decided to add 29 companies and 12 individuals to some 230 Belarusians already blacklisted in response to repression of the political opposition by President Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime. (more…)

“In expression of solidarity and unity, it was agreed that the ambassadors of the EU member states in Minsk will all be withdrawn for consultations to their capitals,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement. It was also decided that all EU Member States will summon Belarusian ambassadors to their foreign ministries. (more…)

The authorities in the city of Viciebsk have taken another repressive action against Vitsebsky Kurier, the oldest and currently only one independent newspaper in Eastern Belarus. 

Late at night the Police stopped a car and violently arrested the newspaper’s chief editor and a journalist who had 10 000 copies of the latest edition of the newspaper in the car. (more…)

Today the authorities in the town of Shklou, Belarus, sentenced Mikola Statkevich, former oppositional presidential candidate, to a three-year prison term in  ”closed regime”. (more…)

On January 6, 2012 a new amendment to a law restricting Internet access in Belarus came into force. According to the Global Legal Monitor (of the Law Library of the US Congress) the law “imposes restrictions on visiting and/or using foreign websites by Belarusian citizens and residents. Violation of these rules is recognized as a misdemeanor and is punished by fines of up to US$125”. (more…)

Following the trial against leading Belarusian human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, the Council of the European Union decided on December 16, 2011, to reinforce restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime and those involved in repressions against the democratic opposition and civil society. The Council added two more people – who have been involved in the trial of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski – to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and a ban from entering the EU.

Meanwhile, December 19, Belarusians marked the one year anniversary of the presidential elections of 2010, which ended in rare mass protests and a exceptional wave of repressions; a ruthless crackdown including targeted harassment of the opposition, independent journalists, as well as the rest of the Belarusian civil society.

On the eve of the election December 19, 2010, nearly 50,000 people gathered in the city centre of Minsk, as President Alexandr Lukashenka was declared the winner of a fraud-tainted ballot, in which each of his nine rivals was awarded less than 3 percent of the vote. At least 700 peaceful demonstrators were brutally arrested as authorities cracked down on the protest. Two of the oppositional candidates in the presidential election, are still in prison – Andrei Sannikau and Mikola Statkevitj.