Belarus Review Daily – August 31, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – August 31, 2020

Your daily insight into Belarus crisis (delivered Monday to Friday)

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31.08.2020 iSANS
  1. POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY
  2. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
  3. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held a meeting with Karl Lamers, the vice president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will speak to the U.N. Security Council on September 4 at Estonia’s invitation (currently a nonpermanent member of the body). She will also address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on September 8.

Viktar Babryka’s team announced the creation of political party ‘Razam’ (‘Together’).

Post-election protests continue for the 4th week now. A grand solidarity action is planned for September 1. All businesses are urged to halt work for 24 hours to support workers on a strike.

In a weekend of August 29-30 large peaceful protests took place in many provincial towns and in all large cities of Belarus, including Minsk. Dozens of protesters were detained, some were severely injured during arbitrary arrests. Police employees continue to act violent, and often remain plain clothed on service, using unmarked vehicles with no number plates – thus leaving no chance to identify them as law enforcement workers at the times of attacks against protesters.

Dozens of thousands gathered in Minsk for women’s march on Saturday August 29, and hundreds of thousands joined rallies across the country on August 30rd which ironically was Lukashenka’s 66th birthday. Many protesters brought coffins and funeral accessories with references to Lukashenka’s political death.

On Sunday August 30, over 100,000 people joined a grand march towards the presidential palace in Minsk. It was followed by a peaceful stand-off against heavily equipped Lukashenka guards. Those included OMON units, water cannons, riot vans, president’s security service, and numerous BTR-80s with heavy machine guns and blacked out identification numbers. The army was again brought into the city center. Most soldiers were equipped with assault rifles. A military convoy of BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles moved out towards the palace during the protests, but didn’t make it to the residency before the protesters left the area due to a heavy rainstorm.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov and acting Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei will hold talks in Moscow on September 2.

On August 30, Lukashenka had a phone call with Putin. The parties plan to arrange a meeting in Moscow in the next two weeks.

Lukashenka again announced his desire for new constitution, and claims there is no way back to 1994 Constitution.

Russian media advisers continue the takeover of Belarusian information sovereignty via state-owned media.

A group of Lukashenka’s supporters arranged a political meeting in front of the Lithuania’s Embassy in Minsk. Despite the violation of law requirement of a 50 meters security distance to ensure the security of diplomats, the police did not interfere.

Over 2,000 students and employees of Yanka Kupała State University of Hrodna signed a petition for new elections and investigation of police brutality.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

The White House calls up on Russia to respect the sovereignty of Belarus and the right of its people to elect their own leaders. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun last week said a Russian military intervention in Belarus would be ‘most unwelcome’ by the USA, but added Washington had no indication of any such plans. He also urged Minsk to accept mediation from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

According to iSANS experts, Russia is intentionally using the narrative of possible military intervention to avoid any Western solidarity. However, for the West to leave millions of Belarusians without international support now would be equal to abandoning the Baltic countries when the Russian army was actually there, but was forced to leave under the pressure from both within and outside Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Last week, U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated that ‘the U.S. government and our European allies should impose sanctions against the individuals responsible’ for actions that represent human rights abuses in connection with political repression in Belarus.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, imposed the first package of sanctions against 30 Belarusian citizens including the ‘former president’ and his near circle responsible for electoral forgery and post-elections violence.

Latvia removed a long-planned visit of Lukashenka from bilateral diplomatic agenda.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

Lukashenka and his Russian advisers continue their efforts to incite religious and ethnic conflict by oppressing the Catholics and introducing anti-Polish narratives in state propaganda. However, by growing pressure on a certain ethnic or religious group, the regime will acquire a very unwanted result: more protest solidarity and growing resistance. Previous effort to incite a conflict between Eastern and Western Belarus proved unsuccessful: the protesters now use ‘We are one nation’ motto and use both national and official flags to show people’s unity against the dictator.

The head of Catholic Church in Belarus, Archibishop Tadevush Kandrusevich, was denied entry to Belarus on his way from Poland on Monday morning. Kandrusevich is a Belarus-born national of Belarus. The running government severely violated the international law by not letting it’s own citizen to his home country. Neither the border guards, nor the Ministry of Interior are able provide any explanations on this outrageous case.

Many believers gathered around Catholic churches in Minsk and Hrodna to express solidarity with Kandrusevich. OMON dispersed the crowds, at least one flag was stolen by OMON from a lady in Minsk Independence Square. The believers at Red Church arranged a procession around the holy building during the evening service. The participants were filmed by plain clothed state security. At least five riot vans were spotted around the church. Earlier in the morning, unknown people replaced all locks in the Red Church’s door. The building formally belongs to Minsk City Council.

The head of Belaruskali strike committee Anatoli Bokun was detained today. He was sentenced to 15 days in prison.

A prominent lawyer and a member of the Coordinating Council, Lilia Vlasova, was detained. Her house was searched by the State Control Committee.

Press secretary of the Coordination Committee, Anton Radniankou, is summoned for an interrogation at the Investigative Committee on September 1.

Activist Siarhei Malikau was detained in Baranovichi for initiating the collection of signatures toremove a local member of the parliament from his post.

Volha Kavalkova, board member of the Coordination Committee is again denied legal help. Her lawyer cannot access her since the last week.

Blogger Alena Yanushkouskaya (participant of Siarhei Tsikhanouski’s ‘Country for Life’ project) was detained at her house and brought into custody.

Acting minister of culture fired Alina Korbut, now former rector of Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts.

Lukashenka fired Belarusian ambassador in Spain. The diplomat earlier called up for fair elections and investigation on police brutality.

Acting Minister of Interior Yuri Karayeu officially labeled the policemen who left service as a form of protest against ongoing repressions ‘Judas’ and ‘traitors’. So did the official newspaper of the ministry.

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