Belarus Review Daily – September 1, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – September 1, 2020

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

TUT.BY
01.09.2020 iSANS
  1. POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY
  2. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
  3. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya commented on the initiation of ‘Razam’ political party that was announced by Viktar Babaryka’s team yesterday. Sviatlana stated that the creation of new political parties ‘is a positive process and a sign of the desire for democracy’. However, she strongly disagreed with Babaryka’s office regarding their claim that the joint opposition team could not win the elections: ‘We won, but they [the acting regime – iSANS] are trying to steal our victory’.

Tsikhanouskaya stated that no talks on constitutional reform with Lukashenka’s regime are valid since they ‘do not meet the demands of the Belarusian people, and look ambiguous, since today Lukashenka is trying to postpone his departure, talking about an incomprehensible Constitutional reform in an indefinite period… There is no need to replace the political agenda by moving on to discussing the constitutional reform’.

Tsikhanouskaya’s office addressed Belarusian law enforcement employees requesting to end the pressure on the Coordination Council, and urged the siloviki to think of the country’s interest, ‘not the interest of a bankrupted man who considers himself the owner of Belarus’.

On Tuesday, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya had a phone conversation with Stef Blok, the Minister of Foreign of the Netherlands. Stef Blok stated that the political dialogue with opposition on peaceful transition is crucial. He additionally called up on Lukashenka’s regime to stop arresting and intimidating journalists.

Moody’s Investors Service today placed all long-term ratings and assessments of major Belarus banks, including Belarusbank, Belagroprombank JSC (Belagroprombank) and Belinvestbank on review for downgrade.

A Qatar Amiri Flight (board A7-AAH) arrived to Minsk on Tuesday. Reportedly, a plane that belongs to a VIP airline owned and operated by the government of Qatar, was used to bring a group of Qatari high-ranked officials from Doha to Minsk. The State of Qatar is a long-lasting business partner of Lukashenka’s regime.

Numerous groups of protesters blocked a few major roads in Minsk on Tuesday morning, but for limited time only.

September 1 is the first day of school and university classes in Belarus. Thousands of university students protested at their education facilities, and joined peaceful protest march in Minsk. Many were later detained in a brutal way. Student protests took place in Hrodna. The protests will continue tomorrow, according to activists.

The largest state owned bank, Belarusbank limits its credit operations for housing, automotive, and consumer sector.

Over 400 workers of High Tech Park organized a protest event near HTP office along Minsk Beltway.

People again gathered at Independence Square in front of the Red Church to join a daily solidarity meeting.

Lukashenka thanked Russia Today’s team for their work in the interest of Belarusian state-owned TV propaganda. Head of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, earlier claimed no RT personnel has been sent to Belarus. Earlier in August, she called for Russian military intervention into Belarus.

‘Lukashenka may not realise it yet, but seeking Moscow’s assistance likely means he is relinquishing power in Minsk, and probably sooner rather than later’ – claims John Bolton (the former advisor of Donald Trump) in his opinion publication for The Telegraph.

Lukashenka explained why the leader of the Belarusian Catholics, Archibishop Tadeush Kandrusevich (who is a Belarusian citizen), was not allowed into his home country on the way from Poland. Lukashenka said he believes that Kandrusevich visited Poland for ‘consultations’ and wanted to return to Belarus ‘having received certain tasks’. He added, that the Archibishop was not allowed to Belarus because he is on the list of individuals prohibited from entering Russia.

Although Belarus has a common database with Russia, this argumentation seems poorly grounded. By not allowing own national into the country, the Border Guards of Belarus conducted a severe violation of internal law (that guarantees that every person has the right of return to their home country).

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the ‘Belarusian authorities should allow the re-entry of Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, so he can tend to his flock during the ongoing protests. He and all Belarusian people must be allowed to exercise their fundamental freedoms, including freedom to worship’.

Siarhei Lepin, the official representative of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, expressed solidarity with the Belarusian Catholics on his Facebook although the official Orthodox Church remains silent on the matter.

The Protestants of Belarus (the Association of Full Gospel Christian Communities) also expressed solidarity with the Catholic Church in Belarus.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

U.S. considers sanctions on at least 7 Belarusians for election fraud and violence against protesters. Additionally, the United States may consider imposing sanctions on Russia if it were to intervene overtly with force in Belarus.

UN human rights experts announced that they received reports of 450 documented cases of torture (inter alia, they received reports of sexual abuse and rape of women and minors that were reportedly conducted by the Belarusian state officials). The UN experts also reported at least 6 protesters are still missing following August 9 elections.

Lithuania’s president Nauseda calls on the UN Human Rights Council to hold an emergency meeting on Belarus.

Belarusian diaspora established the Center of the Belarusian Solidarity in Warsaw. It was joined by the BYSOL / Belarus solidarity foundation, the Belarus Free Theater, the Belarusian Initiative Foundation, and more.

Lithuania provided 64 humanitarian entry permits for Belarusians who may be subject to repressions in their own country. 24 of them are already in the territory of Lithuania. 11 Belarusians asked for political in Lithuania following post-election crackdown.

Amnesty International urges Belarus to hold the police accountable for violence.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

Aliaksandr Budnitski (53), who disappeared on August 11, was found dead under suspicious circumstances. The officials claim his death is not related to protests.

KGB tortures political prisoners held on rioting charges, according to Viasna human rights center.

More than 70 people have been detained in Minsk on September 1. The list includes students, professors, at least 9 journalists, and people with disabilities and a number of chronic diseases. Many were released. An unknown number of protesters remains in detention.

OMON and unknown plain-clothed people detained and abducted numerous protesting students at education facilities on the first day of academic classes. Two students of the Belarusian State University, Vera Monina and Anhelina Haurylenka, have been detained by the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus (ГУБОПиК). The girls were collecting signatures under student petition towards the Ministry of Education, and made a few chalk drawings on the asphalt in the courtyard of the Belarusian State University.

At Minsk State Linguistic University, the administration threatened the protesting students that OMON will use force against them inside the university. Students were filmed by unidentified plain-clothed men inside education facility in what may be considered another act of intimidation of dissident students.

Journalists Nadzeya Kalinina, Aliaksei Sudnikau, Sviataslau Zorki, Mikita Nedaverkau, Maryia Eleshevich, and Andrei Shauluha will remain in jail until at least September 2 following their detention on Tuesday. They will face trials for allegedly participating in illegal mass events – although they were arrested when conducting their professional obligations as media workers and were properly marked as ‘press’. Any obstruction of the lawful activity of a journalist by anyone including the police is a crime under acting national legislation. However, Belarusian state officials do not get punished under these charges.

A few young people were brutally detained in the courtyard of BSU Lyceum – the most prestigious high school of Belarus – after peaceful protest. Video by tut.by features numerous violent arrests in the territory of public high school education facility.

The co-founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party Pavel Seviarynets faces formal charges. He remains in detention since June 7, and has been officially charged under Part 2, Art. 293 of the Criminal Code (mass riots). Pavel is recognized a political prisoner.

On August 29, the authorities renewed the pre-trial detention of another political prisoner and opposition activist, Mikalai Statkevich, who is also facing charges as part of the ‘rioting case’.

Three members of the Coordination Council were summoned to the Investigation Committee within a criminal case against the Coordination Council. Those are Yuri Hubarevich (the chairman of the For Freedom movement), Ivan Krautsou (the Executive Secretary of the Coordination Council), and Pavel Daneika (director of IPM Business School).

On Tuesday morning, activist Liubou Kavalchuk was pushed into a car by a group of unknown men and driven away in unknown direction.The woman was collecting signatures for the recall of a deputy in her constituency. It later became known that she was fined with 10 basic units for allegedly participating in an unauthorized mass event.

As was reported earlier, a member of the Coordination Council presidium, lawyer Liliya Ulasava (Лилия Власова) has been detained yesterday, and her house was searched by the State Control Committee. According to the Coordination Council update, the search warrant indicated that the investigative actions were carried out ‘in the framework of the investigation of tax violations’ by the companies co-founded by Ulasava’s eldest son, Barys. The reasons of detention remain unknown.

Viktar Babarika’s assistant Alena Karagacheva was released from KGB pre-trial detention center under condition of restricted residence.

The bank account of the Mint Media holding, the publisher of major lifestyle media that covered ongoing protests (KYKY and The Village Belarus), has been blocked upon the decision of the State Control Committee. Earlier, the co-founder of Mint Media, businessman Aliaksandr Vasilevich was arrested. He is now facing criminal charges. Vasilevich is known for his support of Viktar Babaryka who was arrested soon after the beginning of his popular campaign for presidency.

Lukashenka’s regime continues repressions against anarchists. On September 1, OMON abducted Siarhei Nevdakh and Siarhei Sasunkevich. Both were thrown into a blue minibus without identification marks (required by state laws) and were driven in an unknown direction. The reasons for the ‘detention’ were not specified.

Anarchist Ilya Senko was detained in Minsk downtown on Tuesday afternoon. According to Maryna Kasinerava (dissident.by coordinator), state security employees beat him up during the detention, and ‘pulled him by the nostrils’ when dragging an activist into the bus.

Entrepreneur Ivan Shyla who was detained on August 30, is now sentenced to 6 days of arrest. According to senior police officer, Shyla shouted ‘Long live Belarus!’, ‘Leave’, and ‘Shame’ during a peaceful protest rally of August 30. The trial lasted for around 10 minutes, Judge ALiaksandr Kochak did not leave the courtroom to consider the decision, and immediately announced the arrest warrant for Mr. Shila.

Activist and blogger Alena Yanushkovskaya from Vitsebsk was fined with 945 rubles for standing on a balcony with a white-red-white flag while greeting a column of peaceful demonstrators. A woman – who has a disability – was detained yesterday, and spent a night in custody. After the trial, she was returned to a detention center with new charges. The court will consider her case on September 2. The motivations of prosecution yet remain unknown.

Lukashenka accused Pavel Latushka, a member of the Coordination Committee, of crossing the red line by ‘becoming an oppositionist’. Lukashenka threatened to deal with Latushka, a former minister of culture, ‘according to the law’.

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