On December 4 voting to elect the State Duma of the Russian Federation took place. Facing the collapse of public confidence and support, the ruling group was forced to organize the most dirty and fraudulent elections in the post-Soviet history. Campaign and the voting itself were accompanied by an unprecedented level of violations and abuses by the authorities. Manipulations of the public opinion, pressure on citizens, independent observers and members of election commissions, buying and rigging votes were undertaken at a scale unseen before.

There were no free access to these elections of the political forces. A number of them (including our Party) were on the non-constitutional grounds denied registration, and thus – the opportunity to take part in elections, to formulate its program of resolving the current political crisis and to uphold it before the citizens. (more…)

Death sentences in Belarus

November 30th, 2011   Articles | Belarus

Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou has by the Belarusian Supreme Court been sentenced to death for the bombings in the Minsk subway that killed 15 people on April 11 this year. Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou are not affiliated with the Belarus political opposition and the witch hunt of the opposition that many feared would be a result of the bombing, has not been realized.

The Belarusian human rights organization Viasna (whose leader recently was sentenced to several years imprisonment) condemns the death penalty as such and believes that the investigation into the explosion in Minsk subway, as well as the trial of Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou, was neither professional nor convincing:

“Observers report serious procedural violations during the preliminary investigation and the judicial examination. The defendants’ right to legal protection has been gravely restricted. The defendants’ reports of physical and psychological pressure during the preliminary investigation failed to be properly examined. Numerous motions by the defense lawyers, aimed at clearing up the irregularities and contradictions of the presented evidence, were groundlessly dismissed.”

Viasna explains on its website that during the trial a number of victims have expressed doubt that Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou have been involved in terrorist attacks.

Today Ales Bialiatski, head of the leading Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna, the most well-known human rights defender in Belarus and Vice- President of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was sentenced to four and a half years of imprisonment in a reinforced prison.

He was also sentenced to confiscation of property and a fine of about $ 83 000 for “concealment of profits on an especially large scale in pursuance of prior agreements” in accordance with the article 243, part 2, of the Criminal Code. The trial, that was held in The Pershamaiski District Court of the City of Minsk, was followed by delegations from international human rights defenders, oppositional politicians and a lot of foreign diplomats.  (more…)

Everything points to the fact that the Belarusian regime is  struggling not only with a severe economic crisis but also with a conceptual crisis and is no longer able to produce a long-term strategy adequate to the scale of current threats, writes Kamil Kysiñski at the Center for Eastern Studies.

As a result of this, Alexander Lukashenko will be forced in the short term to make concessions to Russia, which will gradually restrict his independence. On the other hand, it will allow him to delay the danger of an uncontrollable social revolt. And, writes Kamil Kysiñski, everything points to a further escalation of repression aimed at the regime’s opponents.

Read the analysis about Belarus

Ukrainian tax authorities have re-opened four more criminal cases against imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister and opposition leader, less than a month after she was sentenced to seven years in prison for crimes allegedly committed during her time as prime minister.

The four offences allegedly occurred at the time when Yulia Tymoshenko was head of the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU) in the late 1990s. All cases deal with alleged tax evasion. UESU was then the main Ukrainian importer of the Russian natural gas. (more…)

After a long rest, alternating between publicity stunts and foreign trips representing Gazprom, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suddenly woken up with the announcement about his renewed presidential ambitions and several substantial policy statements.

Putin’s speech to the United Russia convention on Sept. 24 was downright populist. His discussion at a VTB Capital conference on Oct. 6 offered an uncommonly serious policy line. A Russian television interview on Oct. 17 rested somewhere in between. In discerning solid policy from propaganda, a rather clear policy emerges.

Putin has evolved the most on the World Trade Organization. He pursued Russia’s accession vigorously from 2000 to 2003, but during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency he has impeded Russia’s entry. Now, he has sorted out this struggle with himself. He answers the question about whether WTO accession is good or bad for Russia. “I will say it’s 50-50, but overall there are probably more pluses than minuses for Russia,” he said at the VTB conference. “We are not abandoning this goal, and we are ready to join the WTO in full, but we will do so only if they don’t set unacceptable terms for Russia.”

Read the full article in Moscow Times

In a report issued on October 12, the EU Commission stated “that Croatia meets the political criteria and [the Commission] expects Croatia to meet the economic and acquis criteria and to be ready for membership by 1 July 2013.” At the same time the Commission recommended that the Council grant Serbia the status of candidate and give green light for accession negotiations with Montenegro.

In a set of annual reports – issue on October 12, 2011 – the Commission informed on the progress towards EU accession made by the Western Balkans, Turkey, and Iceland over the past year. (more…)

Ukrainian authorities recently issued signals about the fate of the imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as President Viktor Yanukovych hinted that she might be released following a legal reform. However, the Ukrainian Security Service is now filing new corruption charges against her.

Two days after Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) launched a new criminal case, suspecting the former prime minister and current opposition leader of attempting to embezzle $405 million in government funds. This she should have done in cooperation with a government member while heading the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU), the country’s largest power company, in the mid-1990s. (more…)

Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister and current opposition leader in Ukraine, was today sentenced to seven years in prison. In addition to this, she was ordered to pay a fine of $188 million to the Ukraine state and will not be able to run for office in another three years. “[This] seriously harm Ukraine’s European integration and casts serious doubts on the Association Agreement” said Viktoria Siumar, Executive Director, Independent Media Institute in Kyiv.

Viktoria Siumar explains that President Yanukovych has shown that he does not want to hear what the EU leaders are saying. “He behaves like a typical post-Soviet authoritarian leader, the main thing for him – [is to] to remove a political rival.” Yulia Tymoshenko has 15 days to appeal the verdict. (more…)

16 new individuals have been added to the list of those who are responsible for repressions and human rights violations in Belarus. The individuals on this list are banned from traveling to the EU. In addition, the assets in the European Union, of the listed persons, will be frozen.

Today the Council of the EU has reviewed sanctions against the Belarusian regime for its crackdown on opposition, repressions against civil society and independent journalists, as well as violations of international electoral standards during the presidential elections 2010.

Nearly 200 people were already subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

Read the pressrelease