Belarus Review Daily – September 21, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – September 21, 2020

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

Reuters
21.09.2020 iSANS
  1. POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY
  2. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
  3. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY

President-elect of Belarus Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, and members of the presidium of the Coordination Council (Volha Kavalkova and Pavel Latushka) discussed the situation in Belarus with the European Parliament (EP) in a meeting of the International Affairs Committee of the EP. A representative office of the Coordination Committee may be set-up in Brussels soon.

Sviatlana Tsikahnouskaya again urged the international community to not recognize the legality of Aliaksandr Lukashenka as the ruler of Belarus: “Let me emphasize again: Belarusian unrest is not a geopolitical revolution. It is not pro-Russian or anti-Russian. It is not pro-European or anti-European. This is a pro-Belarusian revolution. This is a democratic revolution. Our protests are exclusively peaceful and non-violent’. Tsikhanouskaya also showed the images of victims of torture who suffered from the Ministry of Interior (loyal to Lukashenka) in the last 7 weeks.

According to a member of the Coordination Council Pavel Latushka, the Belarusian authorities detained about 12,000 citizens after August 9, 2020. He claims that human rights defenders are aware of more than 1,800 cases of police violence, and some 800 people have so far escaped to Lithuania and Poland thus becoming ‘de-facto refugees’. Despite high rates of politically-motivated outflow of the population, the International Organization for Migration remains silent about the humanitarian situation in Belarus.

The protests now last for 44 days. On Saturday September 19, over 400 people were detained. On Sunday September 20, at least 274 people were detained (in Minsk, Brest, Hrodna, Homiel, Mahiliou, Salihorsk, Mazyr, Dziarzhynsk, Vaukavysk, Babruisk, and more) during protest marches that gathered 100,000+ people in Minsk, and more in all major towns. In Brest the police used firearms against the protesters in at least one case, tear gas was used in various places. In Hrodna, unidentified men in balaclavas and helmets broke a window in a civil car and dragged a man into their car with no legit rationale.

22 people were detained in Salihorsk on Monday after they gathered to support miners of a strike.

On Monday, Belaruskali miner Aleh Kudzelka refused to leave a mine protesting against Sunday arrests of peaceful protesters. He was later removed from the mine by other workers.

Telegram channel NEXTA published the personal data (including names, dates of birth, and professional affiliations) of 70 new security officials from Vitsebsk in response to police violence. So far, Nexta published the data of 2,000+ security officials, and promised to publish more if the violence against peaceful protesters is not stopped.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Despite common consensus on EU sanctions against Belarus, Cyprus again blocked them. Cyprus is pushing the EU to introduce sanctions against the Turkish drilling in a non-related case. EU fails to introduces sanctions against Belarus for the second week in a raw. In the light of hundreds of cases of torture in Belarus and ongoing violence against women and minors, ‘sanctions shopping’ conducted by Cyprus is making a terrible impact on both the image of Cyprus and the image of the EU.

Poland, Lithuania and Romania signed an open letter urging further EU help to Belarus and demanding democratic changes in Belarus.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

On Sunday, OMON brutally detained and dragged a pregnant protester in Hrodna (disturbing video).

Newly-published video proves that a protester in Brest was shot by the police in the back of his head when causing no threat.

Since August 9, unidentified groups of people in plain clothes and olive suits are involved in violence against the protesters – and the tendency keeps growing. Reportedly, these people (image below) may be related to Belarus Ministry of Interior, and its subsidiaries such as OMON and so-called GUBOPiK (Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption). This is a very dangerous tendency that further destroys any legality of existent police forces. The behavior and functions of these groups resemble to Haitian Tonton Makout paramilitary, and are used for similar tasks.

It is only a matter of time how soon these groups will turn into death squads considering reported history of MoI involvement in enforced disappearances of Belarusian politicians and journalists and politically-motivated killings since at least 1999. It is very likely that if the West will not put the hardest pressure on Lukashenka forcing him to leave, GUBOPiK, “Almaz” (whose employee reportedly shot dead at least one peaceful protester in August) and other special forces regiments of the Ministry of Interior will be further used for physical extermination and kidnapping of peaceful protesters, racketeering, and unprecedented terror against the civil population and political opponents.

From August 9, 2020, the regiments of the Ministry of Interior of Belarus ceased to perform the functions of police per se, and turned into punitive detachments of political pursuit in the interest of the first president of Belarus, Lukashenka. Considering illegal and illegitimate status of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and the recently-appointed government (that was appointed in violation of the Constitution), the legality of MoI activity, the orders of its minister, and its legal status are now very questionable – to say the least. All foreign governments are recommended to stop any cooperation with Belarusian MoI beyond immediate security functions since any foreign cooperation and funding may (and will) be used against peaceful protesters and may incur torture and other forms of politically-motivated violence, including (but not limited to) political kidnappings and new assassinations of protesters.

The work of Belarus Ministry of Interior after August 9, 2020 violates OSCE baseline requirements: the ministry has de-facto become a private paramilitary of notorious oligarch Lukashenka.

Notably, Belarus state propaganda is turning more and more aggressive under the influence of Russia’s RT advisers who are being used to reinforce the state media since mid-August 2020. Belarusian television is becoming the ultimately aggressive, fabricated, and propagandistic. This week, the state TV announced that Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya ‘urged to bomb Belarus’ which, however never happened.

iSANS suggests the foreign governments sign an Act on RT (Russia Today) media network. RT, as one of the main tools o Russia’s f hybrid aggression against Belarus, should be banned from all Western countries. Russian state-owned RT media network has been appointed by the Kremlin as the main information and political hub to create content aimed at discrediting the protest movement in Belarus, its goals, and the intentions of its leaders. It is impossible to ignore this frank, cynical use of the Kremlin’s media capabilities against both the Belarusians and the real intentions of the governments of the EU countries which – considering illegal and illegitimate status of Lukashenka – constitutes a foreign intervention into Belarus’ internal affairs. This direct use of the Kremlin’s propaganda tool in the Belarusian crisis is the best evidence of the need for a separate package of measures for RT. The result of these measures should be a clear declaration of the consolidated intention to paralyze any work of this media network outside the Russian Federation.

Belarusian human rights groups agreed that Marfa Rabkova, who was recently detained for her human rights work, should be acknowledged a political prisoner. The number of political prisoners is fast moving closer to 80 approaching new records in independent history of Belarus.

Best regards,
iSANS team

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