The Belarusian Association of Journalists received the European Union`s human rights prize Tuesday for providing accurate and independent reports despite increasing intimidation and tightening government restrictions. European Parliament President Josep Borrell presented the 2004 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the association`s chairwoman, Zhanna Litvina, at a parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France. "This prize recognizes these professionals who daily risk their lives to seek out the truth," Borrell told the assembly. "The authorities (in Belarus) are coming down on independent media, and the pressure is getting worse ... the attacks against the association are attacks against human rights."
Today the Belarusian Association Of Journalists will be presented the 2004 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought at the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg, France. The BAJ is a non-state organization defending freedom of speech in Belarus. The decision to award the BAJ with this prestigious prize was passed in the end of October in Strasbourg at the special meeting of the chairman and leaders of political factions of the European parliament. European Parliament President Josep Borrell called awarding the BAJ a very positive event. As said by him, the parliamentary elections and referendum had shown that everybody fighting for freedom of speech in this country, as well as in other states of the world, “should have out support”.
Today sons of Belarusian political prisoner Mikhail Marynich met with the Netherlands Ambassador in Poland and Belarus Mr Jan Edward Craanen. Igor and Pavel Marynich gave the Ambassador of the country which presides in the European Union, the letter to the EU Presidency, with the request to express its concern over the situation of our father, demand his release from prison and to organize monitoring of his case. “Our father’s case will be brought to Belarusian court on the 23rd of December. In our opinion the date was chosen not by coincidence. It was a well-known practice in the totalitarian Soviet Union to sentence dissidents on the eve of Christmas to prevent international reaction to the political cases. Belarusian regime borrows a lot form Stalinist methods of the former USSR,” wrote the sons of the political prisoner. “There is no hope that he could find justice under the current regime so the international support and solidarity is of paramount importance for our father and other political prisoners in Belarus”.
The hearing of the case of Mikhail Marynich, one of the Belarusian opposition leaders, is to take place on December 23 at 10 a.m. in the court of Minsk district of the town of Zaslavl’, told the relatives of the political prisoner to the Charter’97 press center.
Officers of the Committee for State Security (KGB) on Monday conducted a search at the apartment rented by Aleksandr Sosnov, deputy head of the Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS) and a member of the United Civic Party’s Political Council.
Lidiya Yermoshina, head of the central election commission, and Yury Podobed, chief of the Minsk riot police (OMON), have been added to the list of high-ranking Belarusian officials barred from the territory of the European Union (EU), the press office of the EU Council told BelaPAN on Monday.
By adopting the decision, the Council has obliged all the EU member states “to take necessary measures to prevent the entry into, or transit through, their territories of the persons concerned.”
Today one of e leaders of the European coalition “Free Belarus” Dzmitry Barodka has been summoned by an official warrant to the Barysaw town department of the KGB (State Security Committee) of Minsk and Minsk region. It was stated in the warrant that the oppositionist should come to the department today at 3 p.m. to “provide explanation on participation in unsanctioned rallies”. Dzmitry Barodka supposes that it could be connected to his participation in protest actions against election fraud in parliamentary elections and referendum in October this year.
In the proclamation on the occasion of Human Rights Day on December 10 and Human Rights Week-2004 the US President has stated: “My Administration continues to encourage free and open societies around the world”. After mentioning Burma and Sudan, he told: “We seek to help the people of North Korea, who are struggling to survive under severe repression and difficult living conditions, and our Nation continues to stand with those who strive for democracy in Belarus, Cuba, Iran, and Zimbabwe”.
The Belarusian government currently considers opening a Belarusian exhibition pavilion at Moscow’s All-Russian Exhibition Center ("VVTs"), Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky told the director of the center, Magomed Musayev, at a meeting in Moscow on December 13, according to official information sources.
Vilnius will soon reply to Belarus` proposal to reduce the age limit on free visas from 70 to 65, the Lithuanian delegation said at a consular meeting in Minsk on December 10, according to the press office of the Belarusian foreign ministry.