Statement by Nikolai Statkevich, coordinator of European Coalition Free Belarus, chairman of Belarusian Social-Democratic Party Narodnaya Gramada. Riga, February, 6 2004
Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to thank the organizers of the conference for the opportunity to speak out in front of you in such a lovely city as Riga. One of the crucial stages of the newest history of Eastern Europe is connected with the name of your city. We remember a courageous struggle of all the Baltic people for their freedom and independence in the early 90s of the last century. That fight was the example for Belarusian patriots. Precisely the tragic events of January of 1991 in Riga and Vilnius urged me, at that time lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Army, for the first time to declare publicly about my position and to quit the Communists Party as a sign of protest.
Activist of the Belarusian civil initiative “We Remember” Iryna Krasowskaya spoke today at the international forum “Future of the Democracy outside Baltic states”. The speech by Iryna Krasowskaya, wife of the Belarusian businessman and public figure Anatol Krasowsky, aroused caused enormous reaction: many participants of the conference heard about the problem of the abducted politicians in Belarus directly from the relatives of the missing.
The United States Ambassador In OSCE Stephan M. Minikes delivered a speech to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on February 5. IN his speech the Belarusian problem was touched upon again. He expressed concern regarding the assault of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. The human rights watchdog was charged 380 millions rubles tax debt recently (about 180 thousand US dollars) for absence of registration of the grants in the Department of the Humanitarian Activities.
The wife of the kidnapped journalist, Svyatlana Zavadskaya, came to Brussels on February 4, and yesterday her meetings with representatives of the European Parliament started. Zavadskaya is to meet representatives of all factions, including Jan Wiersma, who is the head of the European Parliament delegation on Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. “I will ask them, first of all, to support memorandum of Christos Pourgourides, especially the actions to make Belarusian authorities finish the investigation. Secondly, it would be nice to carry out European parliament hearings on the problem of the political abductions. So I’ll try to establish direct contacts with the European Parliament. We already have such contacts with the PARE and OSCE. And it will be our first meeting with the European parliament”, said Svyatlana Zavadskaya to Radio Svaboda.
Ullyana Zakharanka, mother of former Internal Affairs minister of Belarus, general Yuri Zakharanka, has her 80th birthday today. For the long 5 years this courageous woman waits for her son, who disappeared without traces in May 1999. The stirring committee and press center of the Charter97 congratulates Ullyana Zakharanka with her anniversary and wishes her faith, good health and longevity.
One of the most representative international forums devoted to the Belarusian themes, it to be held in the capital of Latvia today. The conference’s name is “Future of the Democracy outside Baltic states”. More than 200 people participate in it. Among them three senators and two members of the House of Representatives Chamber of the US Congress, ambassadors of the countries of the Baltic states and Scandinavia, representatives of the parliaments of Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic. Several dozens of representatives of the largest media of the world – «New York Times», «Financial Times», «CNN», «The Economist», «Radio Free Europe» and others cover the work of the forum. 22 participants represent the Belarusian opposition. There are no representatives of official authorities at the conference.