“By awarding Sakharov prize the chairman of the European Union has made an expressive signal to free and democratic forces in Belarus. All those who are opposing to the pressure of Lukashenka’s regime in Belarus, deserves our support. The prize was given to the people, who despite of strong pressure, taking risks for the sake of freedom of expression and dissemination of information, are fighting against freedom of thought oppression,” commented the European Parliament deputy, member of the special EU Delegation on Belarus Elizabeth Schroeder on awarding the Belarusian Association of Journalists the Andrei Sakharov Prize.
Recently it has become known that Mikhail Sukhinin resigned the position of the head of the Department of public associations of the Justice Ministry. Mikhail Sukhinin has been occupying the position of the head of the Department of public associations since the creation of this institution. For almost ten years he has been in charge of the body that carried out registration and control over the activities of public associations and political parties. This period has encompassed different stages of relations between the state and civil society structures: from the period of active growth of public associations in the beginning of the 90ies, till the later processes of repressive re-registration, mass liquidation of non-governmental organizations and forming an unfavorable climate for the civil society organizations.
New writings “Free Marynich!” have appeared on the walls of Minsk and Mahilyow, the press service of the youth resistance movement Zubr informs. Inhabitants of these cities could see them in the central streets, and also on the busiest quarters of the cities. In the morning workers of the community services are urgently painting over the slogans inconvenient for the authorities, but they appear again in the night. As we have informed, the trial of Mikhail Marynich, former Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Belarus, Member of Parliament, starts on December 23 at 10 a.m. in the court of Minsk district (Lahojski Trakt, 5).
“Zubr” activist Maksim Venyarsky sentenced to 15 days of arrest by Frunzensky district court of Minsk for distributing newspaper “Vybar” dedicated to “orange” revolution in Ukraine. Andrey Baranau and Maksim Vanyarsky were detained on December, 7. In violation of law they were accused of violating article 167-1 of Administrative code (participation in street actions) and spent night in prison. After that they were taken to court but the trial was delayed.
The first president of the independent Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk in his interview to Radio Svoboda commented on the referendum carried out in Belarus at which Lukashenka proposed to lift the presidential two-term limit. “When a person is doing something inconsistent with the law, or is using the situation not within the bounds of the Constitution and the law, people always oppose it. Another question is how numerous those people are. Today they are 5, tomorrow ten, and the day after tomorrow they could be 10 thousands. I repeat and I would repeat the same thing to Lukashenka and to the rest: the President must operate within the confines of the Constitution and the law. As soon as he contravenes the Constitution and the law, he ceases to be a president,” told Leonid Kravchuk.
“The OSCE commitments of Belarus give the right to the European Union to estimate the drawbacks of the domestic situation in Belarus,” said Regina Heiss, Belarus desk officer with the German foreign ministry’s division for Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, at a conference on “Belarus after Parliamentary Elections. Prospects for Europe” held in Berlin on December 15.
Amnesty International, a global human rights watchdog, called on the international community to attend to violations of the rights to freedom of expression and association in Belarus. In its statement released earlier this week, the international organization noted that the Belarusian authorities had clamped down on civil society and opposition forces after October’s parliamentary elections and referendum.
Dictator On Skis 12:16, 17/12/2004, Olga Mazaeva, Saken Salimov, "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" (Russia)
Alyaksandr Lukashenka went skiing secretly again. And not in Europe, where he has gone before, and where he and other Belarusian top officials are banned entry now. Lukashenka had to go to Kazakhstan, to winter resort Chimbulak, using as a cover the intention to meet with Nursultan Nazarbaev, from whom Lukashenka could learn how to contact the West. In Minsk Lukashenka’s absence is carefully hushed. Not a word about the holiday is heard. A piece of information characteristic of Lukashenka’s absence is placed on the site of the head of state: he congratulated King of Bahrain with Independence Day, and congratulated Boris Gryzlov on his birthday.
In its survey analysis of religious freedom in Belarus, Forum 18 News Service notes that formal state support for "traditional" religions is at most symbolic, and that militant atheism still influences state officials. Some officials have attempted to pressure people signing registration applications of Protestant churches to withdraw their names. The re-registration of most, but not all, religious communities does not guarantee religious freedom, and registered activity is restricted by a variety of laws and regulations, such as a bar on registered religious groups working outside their registered area. Another example is that although Greek Catholic Church parishes have re-registered, as it does not qualify as a "central association," it cannot own media publications or invite non-Belarusians to work, for example, as missionaries. Non-registered religious communities are banned under Belarusian law and liable to prosecution, against international law, but the number of unregistered communities appears to have grown. A key feature of state religious policy is an extensive centralised network monitoring religious communities and active religious believers. There has been at least one attempt by the secret police to persuade a pastor to collaborate with them.
The House of Representatives of the Belarusian “parliament” turned down a bill "On the Alternative Service," which was drafted by former parliament member Vladimir Novosyad, and offered the government to draft the bill anew.
The Belarusian National Assembly`s House of Representatives [parliament`s lower house] ratified a memorandum of understanding between the Republic of Belarus and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency for cooperation in the area of logistical and technical support on 16 December.
The number of illegal immigrants currently residing in Belarus ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 people, the Belarusian news agency Belapan reported today quoting First Deputy Head of the Migration Directorate of the Belarusian Interior Ministry Alyaksey Byahun.