Belarus Review Daily – December 4, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – December 4, 2020

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

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04.12.2020 iSANS
  1. POLITICAL ACTIVITY
  2. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE
  3. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

POLITICAL ACTIVITY

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iSANS PUBLICATIONS iSANS presents its new project, a database of propagandistic materials related to Belarus or directed against Belarusian audiences. fakeby.org will collect them and update the database with the help of Bynet users. The collection will be based on 25 core propagandistic narratives identified by our team.

Last month, iSANS launched a map of political prisoners. The map is updated on a regular basis, and contains information on political prisoners and their charges in Belarusian, Ukrainian, and English.

President-elect Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya published a new policy article in the Washington Post on her vision of Belarus-USA relationships and American support of democratic transformations in Belarus. The political advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Mr. Aliaksandr Dabravolski, published six scenarios for possible progress of events in Belarus. These should be taken into consideration as reasonably possible options for the upcoming months.

President-elect Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya published an open letter to Pope Francis asking him for his “sincere word of truth and justice” on the matter of ongoing events in Belarus

United Nations Human Rights Council acknowledged that human rights situation in Belarus is getting a lot worse since September 2020.

A new anti-record in the official report of patients with coronavirus: 1896 new cases. The official statistics, however, are not trustworthy and have been rigged since the beginning of the pandemic. Polyclinics in Minsk and Hrodna stopped all pre-planned services to patients in favor of COVID-19 emergency cases.

The head of the upper chamber of Belarus parliament, Natallia Kachanava, who is known as one the closest female allies to Lukashenka and has been used to sort out conflict situations on his behalf, attended journalism students at Belarus State University that is known as alma mater of numerous state propagandists. Although she met with covid-19 patients the day before, she didn’t wear a mask during a meeting with dozens of students.

Although the meeting was orchestrated and only a selected group of “ideologically safe” students was allowed in, the students slammed Kachanava with uncomfortable questions for which she responded with conspiracy theories and pure demagogy. In particular, Kachanava discussed non-existent “Dulles’ Plan” as a fact and expressively discussed this non-existent document as a real plan of the West to destroy Socialist countries.

Ihar Loban, a representative of BY_POL initiative that unites Belarus security offices who resigned after August 9, 2020 on political grounds, says that over 100 OMON workers in Minsk quit their jobs in August-November 2020.

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3), the police dispersed a small gathering of people on wheelchairs in central Minsk. According to Belsat TV channel, a few people in wheelchairs were thrown into a riot wan.

Active participants of protests, Raman Rashetski, 42, unexpectedly died on December 4.

State security workers stole medical ventilator from children’s’ hospice in Hrodna – medical device was taken without any grounding or documents provided. The organization that bow helps 50 families of badly sick children is being forced out of the building they rent from state. The members of organization openly expressed their disagreement with state violence and now are being threatened by Belarus state security officials.

NATO rejected Lukashenka’s claims that the alliance seeks to occupy Belarus.

Belarusian Nuclear Power Station was again stopped and disconnected from the country’s energy system after a series of reported incidents. State officials claim all goes according to their plan.

Belarus hired at least five former servicemen of Ukraine’s “Berkut” regiment. The regiment is known for its role in attacks against protesters in Kyiv Maidan in 2013-2014.

Secret services continue to intimidate and beat people after arrests in political rallies. The detainees are often sprayed with pepper gas, and forced to cheer state security on the record. Similar videos are that in fact prove the crimes of law enforcement are often being published by the ministry of interior on its social media.

Russia plans to organize “Zapad-2021” military exercises with Belarus in September 2021.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

The regime expands repressions to religious minorities, especially the catholics. The United States and other states called on the regime to allow the exiled Roman Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz , to return home to his country immediately.

Over 70 Belarusian athletes reported facing politically-motivated repressions after they openly criticized the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Earlier, International Olympic Committee has launched a formal investigation procedure on violation of the Olympic Charter by Belarus officials and sports functionaries. If the facts will be confirmed, the Republic of Belarus may be banned from the Olympics, and athletes will perform under neutral (Olympic) flag.

The largest independent website, tut.by, was deprived of the status of media by a court in Minsk following the request of the acting ministry of information. As the practice shows, now since their correspondents will not be considered journalists, the law enforcement will use this fact to arrest them immediately when media workers are performing their professional duties at mass events, such as peaceful protests.

Acting minister of information Ihar Lutski claimed that Belarus should introduce new instruments to immediately change media laws upon request. If such legislation is accepted, this will inevitably be used to further repress journalistic community and bloggers.

Belarusian Association of journalists called on the UN to release all journalists in detention. For the first time in Belarus history, three journalists are acknowledged political prisoners: Katsiaryna Barysevich, Katsiaryna Andreyeva, and Dariya Chultsova.

15 more people were acknowledged political prisoners with total number raising to a record-breaking 160 which is 23 people more than Cuba. The number of political prisoners will very likely continue to grow as soon as human rights organizations will be able to study the details of all politically-motivated criminal cases.

Civilians are being arrested for having national flags inside their balconies or places along windows inside their residential housing. The flag is not illegal, so the people are being arrested for arranging “illegal protest meetings” inside their private apartments.

Belarus customs service arrested 200 deliveries of Belarusian store symbal.by that sales national clothes and flags. The company is officially registered and received no information on why their deliveries are being arrested for three months in a raw. State TV spreads propaganda that all deliveries with white-red-white flags are being arrested – although there are no legal grounds for that.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya named one of the world’s top-50 most influential people of 2020.

Belarus Free Theatre’s (BFT) Natalia Kaliada named among top-30 women of 2020 by the Financial Times. Natalia has been one of key artistic figures from Belarus in the last two decades and remains one of the most known opponents of Lukashenka regime. Along with her husband, a playwright and theatre director Mikalai Khalezin, she lives in exile in the UK since 2011 due to a threat of arrest for their politically expressive artistic position.

36 OSCE members states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark,  Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,  Lithuania, Luxemburg, Iceland, Malta, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway,  Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Finland) issued a joint statement on the situation in Belarus, which “is in clear violation of OSCE  principles and commitments on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and democratic principles of government. The OSCE’s comprehensive concept of  security recognizes that respect for human rights within States is essential to lasting peace, prosperity and cooperation among States. Upholding respect for human rights in  the OSCE area is the responsibility of all participating States.“

Now, since OSCE have appointed Helga Schmid as new Secretary General after a year without a SC, the organization may become even more proactive on the matter of Belarus crisis.

OSCE member states highlighted as particularly noteworthy the following recommendations from the Moscow Mechanism report for the acting political regime:

– “Cancel the results of the presidential elections of 9 August 2020 due to  irregularities at all stages of the process
– Organize new genuine presidential elections based on international standards,  inviting OSCE/ODIHR observation as well as other international and domestic  observers
– Bring the electoral law into conformity with international standards as  recommended by OSCE/ODIHR and the United Nations
– Immediately cease all violence, in particular torture and ill-treatment against  peaceful protestors and opponents
– Immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners held for political reasons  ∙ Ensure that the standards of fair trial are respected
– Ensure the freedom of peaceful assembly in line with international standards ∙ Ensure the safety of all journalists and provide an enabling environment for the  work of journalists and the media
– Refrain from interference with the access to the Internet, and terminate  censorship and blocking of webpages
– Ensure that an independent and impartial body promptly investigates all  allegations of torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence, disappearance and killing by  security forces.”

The OSCE urged Belarus to engage in dialogue within the organization to ensure inclusive national dialogue inside this country. Belarus yet remains a member of OSCE, although it clearly ceased to fulfil its obligations, as well as its obligations under most international multilateral agreements on human rights.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun to the OSCE Ministerial Council stated that since August 2020, Belarus broke its OSCE commitments.

Mr. George P. Kent, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State stated during OSCE ministerial that the behavior of Belarusian officials a serious threat to common security of OSCE member states, and offends the basic moral principle that a government should not subject anyone to arbitrary detention, abuse, and torture, not to speak of thousands of its own citizens. Mr. Kent also said that the US together with the EU, UK and Canada send Belarus a strong signal that business as usual cannot continue, and those who commit abuses should be held to account.

The recommendations in Professor Benedek’s Moscow Mechanism report provide the Belarusian authorities and the OSCE participating States with a roadmap out of this crisis.

Mr. Kent requested a meaningful national dialogue between the acting Belarusian authorities and “authentic representatives of Belarusian society”. He called on Belarus authorities to accept OSCE Chair’s offer to facilitate such a dialogue.

The European Union Vice-president and Foreign Affairs High Representative, Joseph Borrell called on Belarus to fulfil all recommendations as provided in Moscow Mechanism report

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iSANS team

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