Leader of the National Strike Committee, member of the Coordinating committee of the European coalition Free Belarus Valery Levaneuski was transferred to Mahilyow minimum-security colony number 19, the Charter’97 press center was told by his relatives. Before that the entrepreneur accused for alleged libeling of Alyaksandr Lukashenka was serving the term in the minimum security colony number 22 in the settlement of Damanava, Ivatsevichy district, Brest region.
Mikhail Marinich, an opposition leader, may be being targeted solely because of his political opposition to the government. The authorities in Belarus must ensure that he is tried according to international standards, Amnesty International said today.
Today Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks had a meeting with sons of the Belarusian political prisoner Mikhail Marynich (Marinch). Igor and Pavel Marynich arrived to Riga to appeal to Latvian government to support their father, former Belarusian Ambassador to Latvia, before the trial scheduled for December 23. Today the sons of Mikhail Marynich also met Latvian President’s Adviser on Foreign Policy Andrejs Pildegovics and Culture Minister Helena Demakova. As the sons of the political prisoner told to the Charter’97 press center, high-ranking Latvian officials expressed concern over Mikhail Marynich’s arrest, and disbelief that a fair trial could be given in Belarus. It has been also stated that the information about the trial over Mikhail Marynich would be brought to the notice of the EU leadership.
Today the Russian “Nezavisimaya gazeta” writes about the work of the internet-site Charter’97 during the second round of the presidential elections in Ukraine: “At the peak of the events the independent internet-sites gave most attention to situation in Ukraine, moving the Belarusian news to the background. As the worker of the press service of the human rights organization “Charter’97” Natalya Radina told us, “We have organized a special internet-project for covering the events in Ukraine. We placed our information even more expeditiously than our Ukrainian colleagues did. On the election day and night we worked in round-the-clock on-line regime. Now this topic has a bit receded into the background”, but on December 26 we shall work in the same regime”. The aim of the project, as said by Natalya Radina, was to support the Ukrainians who are fighting for democracy. The Belarusians have shown great interest to this information.
In Pinsk subscribers of cable TV channel could see only an image of a live television debate of Ukrainian presidential rivals, as when they started, the sound suddenly disappeared. “Right before the beginning of the translation of he debate between Yushchenko and Yanukovych on the cable TV channel “Interplus” the sound was cut off. I called the Prosecutor General of the city and told him that our right for receiving information is violated. It’s the infringement of the Administrative Code. And his duty is to see to it that the laws norms were followed. The prosecutor simply disregarded my words and said to call the television relay station and ask them. I tried to reach them by the phone, but failed. Nobody had answered. Now we are observing for the second hour now how Yushchenko and Yanukovych are opening their mouths soundlessly,” told Paval Lyakhnovich, a reporter from Pinsk. At 8.45 p.m. sharp (Minsk time), when the debate ended, the sound appeared again.
An election observation mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has released its final report on Belarus’ October 12-17 parliamentary elections, making a number of recommendations for the Belarusian authorities.
Members of the CDU/CSU (Christian-Democratic Union/ Christian-Social Union) faction in German Bundestag consider it necessary for the Belarusians question to be ventilated during the German-Russian consultations at the highest level. Meanwhile the speaker of the German FM Rita Süssmuth (CDU) stated the intention of the German government to make more resolute moves against the Belarusian regime, informs Radio Svaboda.
Events in Ukraine have inspired most people living in the free world. Ukrainian democrats stood together in the freezing cold to demand from their government what we citizens of democracies take for granted: the right to elect their leaders in free and fair elections. But not all observers of Ukraine`s "Orange Revolution" are so elated. Instead of democracy`s advance, some see a U.S.-funded, White House-orchestrated conspiracy to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, weaken Russia`s sphere of influence and expand Washington`s imperial reach. These skeptics range from presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, columnist Patrick Buchanan, and left-wingers in the Nation and the Guardian.
Political rights and civil liberties have become so restricted in Russia that the country has been downgraded to "Not Free," Freedom House announced in a major survey of global freedom released today. The annual survey, "Freedom in the World," shows that Russia was the only country to register a negative category change in 2004, moving from Partly Free to Not Free. However, Russia was not the only country in the former Soviet Union that experienced political and civic changes: setbacks took place in Belarus and Armenia, while freedom gained in the aftermath of civic protests in Georgia and Ukraine.
Leading Polish analysts state that the success of Polish policy in Ukraine could help the Poles to bring up the question of Belarus in the EU more effectively. “The time has shown that we were right as for Ukraine. Now the voice of Poland in this affair is very authoritative. We have many reasons for continuing our Eastern policy in the same direction,” underlined Polish Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Ministers Committee of the Council of Europe Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz.
Aleksandr Lukashenko`s press office on December 20 issued a press statement about the Belarusian leader`s trip to Kazakhstan this past week. Mr. Lukashenko stayed there from at least December 14 through 19 on what Kazakh media outlets called a private visit or vacation at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Belarusian official information sources kept silent about Mr. Lukashenko`s trip during the whole week, saying only that it was a "working visit."
Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga promised to reporters in Riga on Monday that she would be closely following the trial of the former Belarusian ambassador to Riga, Mikhail Marinich, which is to start on December 23. The president expressed hope that the trial would be fair and impartial and that the state of Mr. Marinich`s health would be taken into consideration, Aiva Rosenberga, press secretary of the Latvian president, told BelaPAN.
Aleksandr Lukashenko on Tuesday received Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov who arrived in Minsk earlier in the day to attend a session of the Belarusian-Russian Union State’s Council of Ministers.
Russia is ready to supply 20.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Belarus in 2005 at a price of $46.68 per 1,000 cubic meters, an informed source in the Russian government told Interfax on the eve of a working visit to Minsk by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.
The Belarusian education ministry will not create artificial obstacles to orphan children’s recuperative trips abroad, said Georgy Butrim, a departmental head with the ministry, while speaking at a news conference in Minsk on December 20. However, he said, a "more serious" approach will be taken to the selection of accompanying adults and restrictions will be imposed on foreign trips during the school year. “Children may go abroad for recuperation during vacations. If children leave for abroad during the school year, a normal educational process should be organized for them and teachers should be selected,” he said, adding that since "the child is an orphan, it needs support, but if it is deprived of the opportunity to acquire knowledge while being abroad for a long period of time, it will feel very hard.”
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky are expected to meet Tuesday during a session of the Council of Ministers of the Russia-Belarus Union State and to discuss the amounts of Russian natural gas supplies and prices at which it will be supplied.