Belarus Review Daily – November 17, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – November 17, 2020

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

TUT.BY
17.11.2020 iSANS
  1. ISANS PUBLICATIONS
  2. POLITICAL ACTIVITY
  3. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE
  4. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

ISANS PUBLICATIONS

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We are sending you our Belarus Review Daily by iSANS.

iSANS has defined 25 narratives that serve as the basis for pro-Kremlin propaganda in Belarus. They can be divided into four groups based on the object of the narrative.

 

POLITICAL ACTIVITY

The body of Raman Bandarenka is yet not returned to the family 5 days after his murder. No suspects were detained in relation to kidnapping, torture, and murder of Bandarenka despite numerous video records that point to interior ministry employees and two men resembling to the Chairman of Ice Hockey Federation and known kickboxer, both friends of Aliaksandr Lukashenka, who were earlier spotted during intimidation campaigns and propagandist rallies in different parts of Minsk region.

Leaked CCTV video proves the protesters did not attack the police in the evening of August 9, 2020 before the use of extensive force against unarmed people. The use of force was initiated by the police and state security, as well as masked group of provocateurs that resembles to masked state security employees spotted in the last 100 days among punitive units of state security (and interior ministry in particular). These people seem to act along with OMON and easily get away from the scene. The use of flash grenades and other weaponry on August 9 was neither grounded, nor necessary: the grenades were thrown directly at peaceful protesters who did not cause any physical harm to OMON units and posed no immediate danger – causing severe direct and collateral damage.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya continues her work trip to Sweden, after having an official meeting with the head of Swedish MFA, Ann Linde.

Since November 15, some 15,000 civilians in Novaya Baravaya (Minsk suburb) were deprived of access to water after the neighbourhood’s control valve was removed from state-owned distribution pipe. Over 1,800 children were not attending local school due to water shortage. The kindergarten was experiencing difficulties, too. The residents of Novaya Baravaya have no doubt that the acting regime is taking a revenge on them following creative and continuous peaceful disobedience campaigns in this area. While people were deprived of water, state officials and police came to remove national flags. The service company that spotted the actual reason of water shortage, faced unexpected state examination.

Over 10,000 volunteers from Minsk and neighbouring villages responded to help people in need: they were buying and delivering water to residents of Novaya Baravaya, and helped them solve laundry and showering issues. Road police stopped and checked private cars of volunteers who were delivering water to Novaya Baravaya searching for reasons to fine them.

On Tuesday, heating and internet were shut down for a few hours while outside temperatures fell below 32*F / 0*C. Electricity was switched off fin that area for around one minute on Tuesday. On 9 August, 2020 over 90 percent of locally registered voters supported Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya during presidential elections.

Ironically, in summer 2020, the residents of Novaya Baravaya were among the first volunteers to respond to water access emergency in Malinauka, a geographically opposite side of Minsk.

The access to water was returned to Novaya Baravaya in early morning of November 18 after international attention attracted to this gross violation of basic rights of civilians.

Acting MFA of Belarus threatened the EU and Canada with reciprocative sanctions in response to sanctions (without being able to provide any details due to unnamed standards of “diplomatic correctness”), and announced that Belarus will minimize its participation in Eastern Partnership program from ministerial to expert level.

Ironically, the EU freezed all official contacts with Belarus months ago, so Makei’s claim is nothing but purely a bravado show for internal audiences. Despite Makei’s claim on suspension of Belarus-EU dialogue on human rights, Belarus state agencies clearly showed no progress whatsoever in ensuring and protecting basic human rights in the last two decades despite their manipulative rhetorics. So there has been no real dialogue on the matter in previous few years.

Moreover, Makei’s mandate as acting foreign minister is questionable since he was appointed to ministerial position after the elections and due to illegality and illegitimacy of Aliaksandr Lukashenka as self-proclaimed president, and may not serve ministerial role due to clear violation of Constitutional requirements during his appointment (Article 106 of Belarus Constitution). Numerous atrocities targeted against civil population of Belarus in the last 100 days by state security, army, illegal paramilitary groups, law enforcement units, and civil administration already constitute internationally acknowledged definitions of genocide and crimes against humanity, and prove no dialogue with the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka is possible.

Despite Makei’s professional engagement in EU-Belarus rapprochement since late 2000s, he played key role in sustaining Lukashenka’s regime and supporting ongoing repressions. Makei should not be considered as legal or legitimate representative of the Republic of Belarus – despite any of his calls for cooperation and rhetorics about the importance of dialogue with Lukashenka’s regime.

Uladzimir Makei is one of the closest ally of Lukashenka who plays the role of “good policeman” in the regime for over a decade, but never had an independent role in maintaining any diplomatic or political position. Any collaboration of foreign governments with Makei and his immediate subordinates is an act of legitimization of Luakshenka who make all efforts to get away with gross crimes conducted in Belarus upon his direct orders before, during, and after August 9, 2020 election.

Foreign governments must ensure than no businesses from their countries, including banks, cooperate with the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and / or related politically exposed businessmen, and / or engage in investment projects with Belarusian and foreign individuals immediately related to Lukashenka’s regime that conducts acts of domestic terrorism on a daily basis. Any investment in projects related to the initiatives of the regime or politically exposed individuals, and / or businessmen related to immediate circle of Lukashenka family must be unconditionally frozen and banned by foreign governments.

Ex-prime minister of Belarus Andrei Kabiakou joined Russia’s major holding company, Sibuglemet as CEO and the head of its board.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

The head of Minsk city council Uladzimir Kukharau claimed the civil administration will introduce “additional measures to restore order and discipline” in Minsk upon Lukasehnka’s request to put down each and every expression of dissident opinions across Belarus. Just like all heads of city councils in Belarus, Kukharau is not elected by local population, but is appointed by Lukashenka (or his immediate subordinates). The head of Minsk law enforсement (ГУВД Мингорисполкома) Mikhail Gryb announced that he will end the “bacchanalia” in Minsk and threatened all protesters with criminal charges.

A de-facto general-governor of Minsk (officially – “president’s aide – inspector for Minsk”) Aliaksandr Barsukou threatened to deal with all protest activity by the end of this week.

On August 13, 2020 Barsukou was spotted near Akrestina detention center in Minsk and claimed there was not even “bullying” of inmates although hundreds of people left this place severely injured and reported the use of torture against them. Same night, a group of volunteers recorded shocking cries of men and women who were being ruthlessly tortured and raped by the guards at Akrestina. The role of Barsukou should be investigated from a standpoint of an official personally responsible for organization and execution of crimes against the humanity, and an international search warrant must be issued to bring him to justice wherever possible due to collapse of national legal protection system for the victims of repressions.

One of the oldest (and one of a few remaining) independent newspapers, Narodnaya Volya, ceased to publish its paper version due to assault on its operations by the regime of Lukashenka and Russia’s government.

Self-declared “authorities” loyal to Aliaksandr Lukashenka plan to toughen up measures against peaceful protesters: increasing maximum fines by 200% (up to $1050 – over three median monthly wages), for those captured for the first time and increasing the fine by 300% for those captured again (over $2100 – over six median monthly wages). New amendments may include the use of forced labour (“public payback”) of protesters, and administrative fines for creation and use of “unregistered symbols” – as long-established practice shows, this is mostly anything politics-related in Belarus realities.

An Armenian woman who lived in Belarus for 25 years is being deported with her minor son for participating in peaceful gathering against state violence.

Recent invention of “court system” in Belarus becomes a systematic practice: OMON units and other state security employees are allowed to appear in court hearings under pseudonyms and with face coverings (although laws are silent about such appearance). Perjury has become a common practice of OMON and interior ministry in general with judges ignoring even the most outrageous mismatches in testimonies of officials who often have no relation to cases where they are being present as witnesses, or provide fake personal data, or represent other people without valid legal grounds and permissions.

 

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Presidents of Poland and Lithuania agreed during a personal meeting in Vilnius that the third package of EU sanctions must target Belarusian enterprises and legal persons since existing sanctions yet did not achieve expected results. As of November 17, fifty five Belarus officials are listed on EU sanctions list. This week, the EU will discuss the third package of sanctions to further increase leverage on the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

The EU Delegation to Belarus issued a Joint Statement on behalf of the EU Member States represented in Minsk, the British Embassy, the Embassy of Switzerland, and the Embassy of the United States of America on the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus. They request access to political prisoners in detention centers – following numerous reports on inhuman conditions and torture of detainees (as total number of politically-motivated arrests is approaching 30,000 people with at least 121 individual facing criminal charges and being acknowledged as political prisoners).

Best regards,
iSANS team

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