Belarus Review Daily – September 4, 2020

Belarus Review Daily – September 4, 2020

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

Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters
04.09.2020 iSANS
  1. POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY
  2. INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY
  3. REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

POLITICAL ACTIVITY AND ECONOMY

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is now located in Lithuania, spoke to a virtual information session of the United Nations Security Council: ‘I want to make it very clear, collaboration with the regime of Mr. Lukashenko at the moment means the support for violence and blatant violation of human rights’. Tsikhanouskaya urged UN sanctions against Lukashenka’s regime and called up for the United Nations to send an international monitoring mission to Belarus.

Lukashenka has dismissed all demands from the US and the EU to engage in a dialogue with Tsikhanouskaya and the Coordination Council after he lost the elections. Yet, he continues an armed seizure of power in cooperation with loyal power bloc leadership and support of the Kremlin. While Russia publicly opposes any outside intervention in the internal affairs of Belarus, iSANS has confirmed information that Russia has sent in at least two new groups of ‘advisers’ to Belarus this week.

In her interview for the National Interest, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya says the protesters will fight for as long as it is necessary to remove Lukashenka from politics since he is not considered legitimate by the majority of the country.

Lukashenka and state propagandists continue accusing the West of being behind the protests. On Friday, state TV channels released alleged recording of what was presented as ‘intercepted conversation between Warsaw and Berlin’ about Navalny’s poisoning. The record seems being a fake audio that is at least partially made up of pitched and balanced sound samples from movie dialogues with Russian voiceover that does not match the original dialogue in English.

A few Belarusian journalists confirmed to iSANS that they were being contacted by RT “media advisers” in Minsk with cooperation offers. RT demands included, among others, collecting of materials to compromise top and mid-level officials within Lukashenka’s team. Since RT is now enjoying effective control over the Belarusian state TV, the next steps of the Kremlin’s engagement in Belarus crisis will be focused on setting up dependencies among local business elites and bureaucracy that yet remain loyal to the first president of Belarus.

Member of the Coordination Council’s presidium, Pavel Latushka, is on a work visit to Vilnius, Lithuania.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Britain will double its aid to Belarus media and human rights organizations with an extra 1.5 million GBP (almost US $2 million). On Thursday, Britain’s junior foreign minister Wendy Morton called on Belarus to respect the human rights after BBC broadcasted new footage of violent detentions by OMON.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius urges the EU ‘to be definitive in stating that, since August 9, Lukashenka is a former president of Belarus and that his actions are unlawful and intolerable in Europe’. He calls for the EU to launch an international investigation of possible crimes against humanity in Belarus.

Lithuania and Poland take the leading role in expressing solidarity with the protesters and pushing for a quicker and more assertive response from Brussels. Russian and Belarusian propaganda react with conspiracy theory publications about Western military intervention in Belarus.

According to Die Welt sources, the EU will not impose personal sanctions against Aliaksandr Lukashenka since Germany and France want to keep the door open for him. Keeping a dictator in power amid unprecedented low public support and growing repressions (including assassinations, torture, kidnapping of civilians, and violence against journalists) would be a betrayal of a 10-million European nation that stands for peaceful democratic transit and new fair elections.

About a 1,000 applications were filed to the Investigative Committee of Belarus by the victims of torture conducted during August 9-13 events by the Belarusian state security. 0 (zero) criminal cases opened on the matter. Belarusians are left with no legal instruments to effectively protect their rights, and are systematically denied the right to justice. Needless to say, such attempts to erode the Belarusian people’s ability to realize a self-directed democratic transition may lead to intensification of the conflict that could consume the entire region, obliging Germany, France, and even the United States to undertake an urgent review of their political stance, economic policies and military posture.

Friday session of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament) has begun with deputies’ rally in support of Belarusian protesters.

Belarusian IT sector continues relocation to foreign jurisdictions. After Lithuania and Latvia welcomed Belarusian IT specialists, more countries in the region now compete for high-value workers and enterprises that seek to cut the risks and leave Belarus. Reportedly, up to 6,000 Belarusians moved to Ukraine after the August events, many of them represent Belarusian high-tech industry.

Belarusian lawyer Denis Aleinikov, who is a person behind legal framework of Belarus High Tech Park, will help the Ukrainian authorities to set up a local hub for IT companies named Diia City. Denis i snow an advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister (Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine) Mikhail Fedorov.

REPRESSIONS CONTINUE

Ms Anaïs Marin, a UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, stated that the situation in the country ‘has never been as catastrophic as it has been in the past month’ and ‘is all the more worrying as it continues to deteriorate.’

Prominent businessman and media publisher Aliaksandr Vasilevich who earlier openly supported Viktar Babaryka, is now facing criminal charges in what is seen a politically-motivated case. His pregnant wife Nadia Zalenkova was named the second suspect within Vasilevich’s case. She yet remains at large, but may be detained if the case will be further pushed by the acting regime.

Volha Kavalkova and Siarhei Dyleusky, members of the presidium of the Coordination Council, were sentenced to 15 more days of administrative arrest.

Thousands of students joined the protests on September 1, the first day of the academic year. Now, plain-clothed men kidnap teenagers from universities and drive them away in cars with no number plates. The Ministry of Interior later acknowledged that the people who brutally detained students inside education facilities were Belarusian policemen. The ministry provided no explanations on why violent detentions were conducted within universities and why the MoI workers violated national legislation on law enforcement rules and traffic requirements. In one of the most outrageous cases, 5 students were detained at Minsk State Linguistic University in Minsk downtown for performing ‘Do you hear the people sing’, a protest anthem from the musical ‘Les Miserables’.

State organizations will be cut of from foreign Internet websites. Internet provider ‘Dzelavaya Set’ (Деловая сеть) will block foreign DNS servers in state agencies and organizations. Only Belarusian websites will be accessible there. Many non-state news websites are already not accessible from computers in state institutions, and dozens of independent media outlets were blocked by the Ministry of Information in a new wave of repressions. Numerous media workers are forced to leave the country and now work from abroad for the sake of physical security.

A court in Minsk jailed six journalists who were detained at the September 1 student protest. Each was sentenced to three days in jail. They were found guilty of taking part in illegal protests, however no facts were provided on the matter. In a few cases, the witnesses (who were represented by OMON) claimed that the journalists ‘coordinated’ the protest rallies, but were unable to explain. The hearings took place via teleworking software. OMON employees who served as witnesses, didn’t remove balaclavas for the hearings. In at least one case, OMON witness was represented by a person who actually wasn’t a witness mentioned in court papers, but claimed otherwise and refused to prove his identity.

One of the most successful IT companies from Belarus, PandaDoc, claims four of its employees were taken hostages in a politically-motivated criminal case against the company. The owners of business now say they will be forced to close the office in the Republic of Belarus, and will establish an alternative to Belarus High Tech Park in another favourable jurisdiction.

Best regards,

iSANS team

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