Today is the 53rd anniversary of Anatol Krasouski, a businessman and public activist. Anatol Krasouski disappeared without traces together with his friend, Vice Speaker of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th convocation, Viktar Hanchar, on September 16, 1999. Later blood of the disappeared and bits of broken glass were found at the supposed place of abduction, Fabrychnaya Street. Anatol Krasouski and Viktar Hanchar were serious opponents of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. It is supposed that Krasouski’s abduction could have been a reprisal for financing opposition by him. For the period of five years the Belarusian Prosecutor’s Office, despite of the demands of the international community, had not carried out an objective investigation of his abduction’s case. Numerous proofs show that the high-ranking officials of Belarus are involved in Anatol Krasouski’s abduction. Until now different international organizations and structures are demanding to investigate disappearance of Krasouski and Hanchar.
President Saakashvili said on May 17 in Warsaw, where he participated in the Council of Europe Summit, that Georgia, which has undertaken “democratic mission,” is obliged to speak about the situation in Belarus.
“One peculiarity of the current summit of the Council of Europe should be stressed. It tales place after the EU enlargement and after the crucial events in the European region: the democratic revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. The principles of democracy on the basis of which the Europe is united, and which are the incumbency of the Council of Europe, have visibly strengthened within the period from the last summit. That is why absence of democracy in Belarus causes a deep concern of the participants of the summit. Europe cannot allow a dictatorship to be preserved in its center, and people are persecuted and killed for dissent,” told the international coordinator of the civil initiative “Charter’97”, member of the Council of Civil Initiatives “Free Belarus” Andrei Sannikov, commenting on the harsh condemnation of A. Lukashenka’s dictatorship at the third summit of the Council of Europe.
On May 16 the Belarusian Union of Poles (BUP) was visited by policemen after several dozens of the BUP members gathered in front of the building. The policemen referred to the fact that they were allegedly informed by the editorial office of the newspaper “Glos z-nad Niomna” that an unsanctioned meeting has gathered by the head office of the BUP, and a banner was hanged out on the balcony. The beginning of the hymn of the union of Poles was allegedly written on the banner: “We won’t leave the land, from which our ancestors come from…”
Today the court of Kastrychnitski district of Hrodna fined six participants of the rally on May 7 that was held in remembrance of the sixth anniversary of Yuri Zakharanka’s abduction. They are charged with active participation in unsanctioned picket.
The staff number of servicemen of the special riot police squad (SWAT) of the Interior Affairs Department of Minsk Executive Committee could be increased, told SWAT commander police colonel Yuri Padabed to Interfax on Monday. As said by him, “in order to decrease the load for the servicemen of the Minsk SWAT, the police department discusses augmenting the unit by 15-20%. At present the SWAT has 300 servicemen”, Yuri Padabed told.
European leaders hailed the progress of democracy on the continent`s eastern edge as its top human rights body met Monday, but they held up Belarus and Moldova`s breakaway Transdniester province as evidence that more needs to be done.
“The Council of Europe is the house for all European nations and their 800 million citizens, hopefully also soon for Belarus,” said Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly president Rene` van der Linden. He underlined how the Council and other European organizations are continuing to monitor the state of democracy in Belarus. After the accession process was put on hold in 2001, Belarus has now become the only country in Europe not to be a member of the pan-European organization.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has asked Belarus to make the required reforms to become a member of the European Council. Belarus is a unique European country currently outside the Council. Therefore, it is not bound by the European Human Rights Convention, which was signed in 1949. Barnier, in a declaration in the Polish capital, Warsaw said, "Belarus is supposed to make the required alterations so as to participate in the European Council". Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is referred to as the last dictator in Europe.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus described Belarus as a gray zone on the map of democracy while speaking at the Council of Europe’s summit in Warsaw on May 16. The Lithuanian leader noted that Belarus was the only European country not represented at the summit. “Belarus, a neighbor of Lithuania and a country whose citizens support European values, remains a gray zone on the map of democracy,” Russia’s RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.
Lithuania and Ukraine are “ready to do everything to advance democracy eastward because it is high time to bring the banner of democracy into Eastern Europe,” Russia’s RIA Novosti quoted Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus as saying following his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yushchenko, in Vilnius on May 15.
Poland`s Senate on Friday denounced a decision by the Belarus to declare null and void the election of officials representing the Polish minority in Belarus. "We consider the position of the Belarus justice ministry a violation of the fundamental rights of national minorities," Polish senators said in a statement.
“What is the purpose of the Council of Europe? In a world crowded with international organizations, what is the Council of Europe for?” asked Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, speaking today in Warsaw at the organization`s summit. “While we can be proud of our achievements as the first international organization to be created out of the ashes of the Second World War, and we now count 46 out of 47 European countries as our members, we cannot find the answer in the past.” Davis admits he is anxious to avoid duplication. “We should not waste taxpayers money by doing the same things as the EU and OSCE.”
Allegations by Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Russian spy service FSB, about the Unites States’ financing of a revolution in Belarus prove that the Kremlin does not want to change its policies toward the country, said Anders Aslund, coordinator of the Carnegie Endowment programs in Russia and the CIS.
US President George W. Bush has signed a bill providing for an additional $70 million for “Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union,” of which $5 million would be made available for democracy programs in Belarus, Mike Newman of the Library of the US Congress told BelaPAN.
An official emphasized the importance of the Religion Law in what he called “balancing relations between religious communities and the state.” The 2002 law, which has come under fire from Protestant communities as discriminating, was under discussion at Tuesday’s meeting between Stanislav Buko, head of the Council of Ministers’ Committee on Religious and Ethnic Affairs, and lawmakers in the House of Representatives.
Faithful of the New Life Church in Minsk barred district officials and police officers from attending their worship on May 15. About ten officials carrying two video cameras asked the worshippers for permission to enter the building that houses their gatherings, Vasily Yurevich, a community administrator, told BelaPAN.
Utilities in Minsk have restored the supply of hot water to all apartment houses which were scheduled to have hot water turned off in early May following an appropriate order by the Minsk City Executive Committee issued days after Aleksandr Lukashenko’s hard-hitting remarks targeting the utilities sector.