On March 25 representatives of the Belarusian organizations of Czech Republic, students, Belarusian citizens and their Ukrainian colleagues assembled in front of the Belarusian embassy in Prague, decisively protesting against the dictatorial policy of Alexander Lukashenko, the so-called “unification of Belarus and Russia” and demanded to cease persecution of Belarusians for political reasons, reports the press-service of the Union of Belarusians abroad.
One of the ZUBR movement’s coordinators Timofei Dranchuk was arrested at 2.30p.m., March 25 near the Okrestina confinement center. The young man approached the gates, leading to prison, in order to pass newspapers to Andrei Sannikov, Ludmila Gryaznova, Dmitry Bondarenko and Leonid Malakhov, arrested for organizing the People’s March on March 12 and got apprehended right away. ZUBR coordinator managed to tell his parents on the phone that the reason for his arrest was a judicial verdict of 10 days of imprisonment for his part in last year’s Freedom Day rally on March 24.
Certain well-informed sources, close to the law-enforcement structures, report that in the year 2003 the Belarusian KGB’s activities will be subject to thorough examination. Inspectors representing presidential Administration, presidential Security service, Security Council, procuracy general, the Committee for state control and Finance Ministry will examine the activities of all KGB structural subdivisions.
Oleg Proleskovsky was appointed first deputy head of the presidential Administration of Belarus, having previously worked as director general of BelTA, “Interfax” was told on Tuesday in the press-service of the Belarusian head of state. According to the agency, the man will be now placed in charge of the state ideology sphere.
In mid-April the UN Commission for human rights, headquartered in Geneva, will consider the resolution on human rights and freedoms violations in Belarus. The resolution’s consideration, according to UCP press-service, was initiated by USA. The commission, headed by Libya, encompasses representatives of 53 countries.
Minskers’ intention to assemble on the Independence square on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic was brutally suppressed by the regime. When the crowd only started gathering at the central Post office, police loudspeakers already warned them that the city hall forbade protest.
Amnesty International declared everyone, detained during recent protests in Minsk, to be prisoners of conscience. Their official document reads the following: “Barely less than two weeks ago former Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Sannikov, human rights activists Ludmila Gryaznova and Dmitry Bondarenko from Charter`97, and small business leader Leonid Malakhov were arrested and sentenced to 15 days` imprisonment for their role in organizing another mass action in Minsk on 12 March.”
March 24 ushered in a series of trials over the participants of the Freedom Day rally, marking the 85th anniversary of the Belarusian People’s Republic. As a result, 10 people were sentenced to administrative arrests, 6 to fines and 7 received official reprimands from the Leninsky district court of Minsk.
“Persona non-grata” Alexander Lukashenko may spend a few weeks in Greek capital soon. This opportunity emerged after in mid-March the EU approved their program “New neighborhood”, which is called to elaborate the principles of relations between EU and adjacent countries after EU’s enlargement. In this connection the problem of Lukashenko turns poignant for Europe again. Since December last year the man was under the travel ban from EU and USA. It could well be that by the day of the summit Lukashenko may have this penalty suspended.
We are deeply concerned by the fact that despite numerous protests of the international human rights organizations, organizers of the People’s March “For Better Life!”, held in Minsk on March 12, 2003, are still kept in custody. Incarceration of prominent human rights advocates and public figures Andrei Sannikov, Ludmila Gryaznova, Dmitry Bondarenko and Leonid Malakhov testifies to the lack of respect for elementary human rights and freedoms in Belarus. We support the demand of an immediate release of all Belarusian political inmates.
Last year NTV correspondents noticed that charter flights Belarus-Iraq are getting suspiciously regular. The aircrafts carried on board some secret “humanitarian goods”, though the correspondents failed to find out the real content of the cargo. Recently “Interfax” agency with a reference to the “Belavia” president Anatoly Gusarov, reported that Belatrusian nationals were delivered home from a pre-war Iraq by a charter flight. This statement drew everyone’s attention because by then the Belarusian Foreign Ministry reported of the Belarusian diplomats’ intention not to leave diplomatic site in Baghdad, regardless of looming war. Belarusians, who worked in various Iraqi companies under contracts, left the country on Russian planes.