- MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS
- POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
- HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Last week anti-terrorist exercises were held, new exercises with territorial defense were announced, a set of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems were prepared to go on combat duty, and construction of a military camp began in the Gomel district. No significant Russian military activity was detected.Deployment of the tactical nuclear weapon in Belarus will begin after July 7-8, right after the preparation of facilities for its deployment will be finished. This was announced by Vladimir Putin at the meeting with Aliaksandr Lukashenka on June 9, in Sochi. We already wrote in our Review on May 30 that Lukashenka made some comments on start of nukes deployment, the allegations were denied by Putin. Contradicting statements of Putin and Lukashenka about tactical weapons’ deployment can mean the following: 1. Lukashenka does not have full information and is not in control of the deployment process; 2. Lukashenka and Putin agreed on a disinformation campaign in order to misguide the society. At the moment, it is still unclear, where the tactical nuclear weapon will be stationed in Belarus.Anti-terrorist exercises took place in Gomel region. The exercise was aimed at suppressing the activities of sabotage and reconnaissance groups. In general, the exercise may be a consequence of the activities of sabotage and reconnaissance groups on the territory of the Belgorod region of Russia. The Lukashenka regime has long been aware of the potential risk posed by Belarusian volunteers currently fighting for Ukraine. The exercises conducted can be seen as a response to such threats. Drills with territorial defense continue in new regions of Belarus. In June such drills will be held in Luninets (Brest region), July – in Soligorsk (Minsk region). In total, since the beginning of 2023, the drills with territorial defense were conducted in 6 Belarusian regions. In the circumstances of “external threats” Lukashenka regime started to pay more attention to territorial defense as an integral part of national security.The S-400 antiaircraft missile system was put into service of the 15th antiaircraft missile brigade. The S-400 SAM system, handed over to the Belarusian armed forces by Russia in late May, will be put on combat duty near the village of Dubrovo (Smolevichi District, Minsk Region) as part of the 6th anti-aircraft missile battalion of the 15th anti-aircraft missile brigade.Construction of a military camp for forces of Special Operations of Belarusian Armed forces began in Gomel Region. The military camp is being built on the basis of five abandoned children’s sanatoriums.
On June 10, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya presented Honor and Dignity medals to families of Belarusian fighters, who died in Ukraine. The Leader of Belarusian democratic forces presented the medals on behalf of the United Transitional Cabinet to the Families of heroes, who died in Ukraine: Miraslau Lazouski (Mysh), Vasil Parfiankou (Syabro), Ivan Marchuk (Brest), Zmitser Rubasheuski (Hans), and Pavel Suslau (Volat). Last week Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was on a working visit in Vienna, where she met Austrian Prime Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen. The main topics discussed were the adoption of the Article 33 of the ILO Constitution against Lukashenka regime at the ILO Conference, new sanctions, accountability of the regime for crimes against humanity in Belarus and for complicity in the war against Ukraine, the threat of nuclear weapons deployment, need to support political prisoners. At the meeting with the Austrian Prime Minister Tsikhanouskaya handed over the report prepared by the National Anti-Crisis Management on complicity of Lukashenka regime and companies affiliated with “Belaruskali” in illegal deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied territories. Whereas Austrian PM proposed to hand over the documentation to the ICC in The Hague. It is expected, that the documentation will be handed over in July. Moreover, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya held a video conference with the representatives of Belarusian volunteer fighters from the Kalinousky regiment with support of the Deputies of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. The Kalinousky regiment expects more financial support of the Belarusian democratic forces, whish for more actions and strategy in order to liberate Belarus, hope that Tsikhanouskaya will announce mobilization of campaign in order to reach the common goal, and will continue practical dialogue with the leader of the United Transitional Cabinet. Valery Kavaleuski, representative of the United Transitional Cabinet for Foreign Affairs, was on a working visit in New York, where he held briefings for Delegations at the UN on Human Rights violations in Belarus and unlawful deployment of nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus, met with the representatives of the countries of the global South to discuss cooperation and further pressure on Lukashenka regime. On June 6, the UN General Assembly elected Algeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and South Korea to the UN Security Council for two-year term starting on January 1, 2024. Slovenia beat Belarus in the race for UNSC seat with 153, whereas Belarus received only 38 votes. The official Minsk reacted to the defeat by accusing the collective West putting pressure on other UN Member Countries not to vote for Belarus; Belarusian democratic forces see this as the evaluation of Lukashenka regime by the world community. Representative for National Revival Alina Koushyk was on a working visit in Riga, Latvia, where she attended the Riga Stratcom Conference, the official inauguration of the Group for Cooperation with Democratic Belarus at the Latvian Saema and joined their first assembly, met with the newly elected President Edgars Rinkevičs. At the same time Aliaksandr Lukashenka paid another visit to Vladimir Putin on June 9 in Sochi. It is the third visit of Lukashenka to Russia in the period from May 9, 2023. Putin assured that “the preparation of the relevant facilities will be finished on July 7-8”, after which Russia is to deploy nukes in Belarus. Whereas Lukashenka concentrated on economic issues, underlined the need to create a strategy with Putin on how to attract closer cooperation with other EAEU countries as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and underlined that a lot of work needs to be done for the government to strengthen economic ties. On June 8, a meeting of Chiefs of national security councils of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) took place in Minsk. Lukashenka didn’t shy to make propagandistic announcements and accusations against the West: The USA wants to dismember Europe and establish their dominance in the European continent, but the ultimate goal is China; the West puts pressure to the CSTO members to disrupt their cooperation with Russia and Belarus; sanctions “have turned from an instrument to enforce peace into a new complex threat on a global scale”. Moreover, accused Ukraine of blowing up the Kakhovka HPP and named numbers of Ukrainian losses at the counteroffensive within three days, suggested not to look for reasons into Ukrainian war now, but to stop the conflict. On the eve to the meeting Nikolay Patrushev, Russian Security Council Secretary, arrived to Minsk also to hold Russian-Belarusian security consultations. At the meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Aliaksandr Volfovich agreements on the information security, including information security in the context “of the hybrid war waged against the Union State”, military-technical cooperation was discussed and Patrushev announced “the dominance of the USA is out of question. The world will be multipolar”.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
On June 7th, Alexander Lukashenka pardoned Russian citizen Sofia Sapega, who had been sentenced in May 2022 to six years in a penal colony on charges of deliberately inciting social hostility and discord committed by a group of persons and entailing grave consequences, and illegal collection and dissemination of personal data of law enforcement officers. Before the decision to pardon Sapega, the issue of transferring the 25-year-old woman to Russia to serve her sentence in a Russian colony was under consideration. Lukashenka had previously refused to pardon Sapega, but pardoned her former partner, opposition blogger Roman Protasevich, after he started cooperating with law enforcement bodies and repeatedly slandered opposition members in his public appearances on TV. Sapega was detained in May 2021 at Minsk airport together with Protasevich after the Belarusian authorities forcibly landed a Ryanair plane flying from Athens to Vilnius. Before her detention, Sapega administered the opposition telegram channel «Black Book of Belarus» where personal data of the security officers whom the opposition considered to be involved in the brutal suppression of protests in Belarus after the 2020 presidential elections, were published. On May 6 in Minsk, political prisoner Yana Pinchuk was sentenced to 12 years in a penal colony. In August 2022, Pinchuk was extradited from Russia to Belarus, despite the ban of the UN Human Rights Committee. At home, a 25-year-old woman was accused of five «extremist» and «terrorist» articles of the Criminal Code of Belarus, two of which were not specified in the request for extradition from Russia. This is prohibited under international and Russian extradition rules. According to the investigation, Yana administered the protest telegram channels «Vitebsk-97%», «Orsha-97%», and «Novopolotsk and Polotsk 97%», where under the nickname «Princess Leia» she posted messages with «a negative assessment of law enforcement officers and public authorities», published «calls for causing harm to policemen» and «extremist materials». PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons approved a draft resolution “Addressing the specific challenges faced by the Belarusians in exile.” In a unanimously-approved draft resolution, the committee said “the Belarusian people are not the same as the Lukashenka regime” and should not be treated in a discriminatory fashion because of the regime’s participation in the war against Ukraine. The committee hailed the “resilience, courage and determination” of Belarusians who have been forced into exile by the repression of the Lukashenka regime and encouraged states temporarily hosting them to “do their utmost to ensure that they can stay legally and are welcomed in dignified conditions”. The committee made a series of practical recommendations to make legal entry and stay outside Belarus and travel in the EU easier for Belarusian exiles and their families, as well as steps to keep them safe from reprisals, able to access their bank accounts and run businesses. States and parliaments should support the democratic forces in exile, as well as civil society and lawyers, and encourage Belarusian education and culture in a number of ways, the parliamentarians said. Voting on the resolution is due for plenary debate at the June session of the Assembly. International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS) published a pilot report «Incitement to genocide against Ukrainians in Russian and Belarusian propaganda». The purpose of the study was to identify statements across the range of anti-Ukrainian rhetoric in Russian and Belarusian propaganda that contain evidence of a crime, as described in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, namely “direct and public incitement to genocide”. The study identified and described the main types of anti-Ukrainian statements – the denial of the existence of the state of Ukraine and Ukrainians as a separate people, statements that cultivate hatred towards and glorify terror against Ukrainians as well as statements that represent direct and public incitement to genocide in the form of the elimination of the Ukrainian national group or part of it, as well as calls for the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and their assimilation. The data documented in the report can be used as evidentiary material in international courts and help bring Russian and Belarusian propaganda figures to justice for their crimes of incitement to genocide as part of a broader process of investigating possible international crimes committed by the Putin regime during its aggression against Ukraine with the complicity of the Lukashenka regime.
New “old” threats of Lukashenka to Poland and the Baltic States. At the meeting with the governor of the Russian Kaliningrad region Anton Alihanov Lukashenka announced that Belarus and Russia “can barely tolerate the actions of Poland’s and Baltic States’ leadership. When the patience explodes, the neighbors must not be offended”. “The attempt of the West in 2022 to limit connections between us, free movement of goods by rail and land transport, both from Russia and Belarus, — this attempt was doomed to fail. No matter how they try to divide us by artificially created hurdles, it won’t succeed”. Lukashenka named these actions “economic war”. “Then don’t let them be offended. We do not threaten anyone. We solely follow our interests”. The propaganda graduation parties that glorify Russian-Belarusian friendship continue. In Mogilev graduates are forced to attend a concert where Russian stars Olga Buzova, bands “Propaganda” and “Strelki” will come. In one of the city gymnasiums teenagers who refuse to attend the concert are threatened to give a bad characteristic and to “correct” the certificate. This was reported to “Zerkalo” by a reader who says that many do not want to go to the concert but the administration insists on it. Belarusian propagandist Vadzim Gigin was appointed Director General of the National Library; Minister of Culture Anatoli Markevich presented him to the employees. Previously Gigin was the Head of Public Association “Belarusian Society “Znanie””.Propagandist Aliaksandr Shpakouski: “Belarus has no intention to get involved into the conflict in Ukraine, the security of the own country is more important at the moment”. This statement was made by political analyst Aliaksandr Shpakouski on the public-political talk-show “Budni” on air of “Alpha Radio”. We remind that at the beginning of the full-scale invasion propagandists had different opinion. Best regards,iSANS team