The leader of the movement “Homeland Defenders”, Aleh Vouchak, is summoned to appear in the Department of Interior Affairs of Minks executive committee to provide explanations in connection with the address of the movement published in the “Narodnaya Volya”. The Department of Interior Affairs of Minks executive committee considers that Aleh Vouchak spoke for the unregistered movement, and he is to be penalized under administrative law for that. In April an official warning was issued to the “Narodnaya Volya” by Information Ministry for publishing this address.
On May 20 it was reported that four more citizens have filed a suit against the editorial office of the independent newspaper “Narodnaya Volya”, saying that they had not signed in support of the movement “Volya Naroda”. It has become clear in the court of Lenin district of Minsk, where the first five claims against the “Narodnaya Volya” are prosecuted. The lawyers of the Ñenter of legal assistance to mass media of the Belarusian Association of Journalists are drawing attention to the fact that all plaintiffs are citizens of Hlusk, and that the texts of their claims are almost identical, and they are signed in one time.
In the interview to Radio Polonia deputy of the European Parliament of the Polish party the Citizens Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO) told about its new initiative concerning resolution on Belarus, which could be addressed at the nearest session of the European Parliament in the beginning of June. “I decided to encourage the colleagues to create another draft resolution on Belarus. This time the draft would be completely dedicated to establishing a radio station, or a network of regional radio stations for the Belarusians,” Bogdan Klich told.
Under dictation of officials of the ideology committee of the Minsk executive committee, the administration of the hotel Belarus refused the rent of the premises for the Belarusian-Swedish conference on May 20-22. At the supreme moment the Belarusian Embassy in Sweden denied visas to Swedish participants of the contact-making conference.
On May 20 the extraordinary session of Sejm Commission on Foreign Affairs is to take place. At the session the deputies are to discuss the state of Belarusian-Polish relations. The MPs of all parliamentary parties of Poland are concerned by the abrupt deterioration of the relations between the two countries. The Polish members of the European Parliament in Brussels are concerned by that as well. Vice-chairman of the European Parliament, the head of the Commission on Cooperation with Belarus, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, calls the accusations of the Belarusian side against the Polish diplomats “irrational”, and the reactions of Lukashenka – nervous. “I think that this shows great nervousness of Mister Lukashenka. I think that he wants to create an image of an enemy that always helps to unite ranks. He considers Poland to be such an enemy. I hope that this won’t last long, as these accusations are irrational. Nobody should be interested in sudden worsening of relations between Poland and Belarus,” told the politician to Radio Polonia.
The Prosecutor’s Office of Russia has sent a letter to Zinaida Hanchar, the wife of the disappeared. It is said that when the need of the legal assistance on the territory of the other country would arise, the prosecutor’s office of Minsk could apply for that.
The national congress of pro-democracy forces that would result in the nomination of a single opposition candidate for the 2006 presidential election is expected to be held in September, Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the United Civic Party (UCP), told BelaPAN.
A potential pro-democracy candidate in the 2006 presidential election expressed misgivings that an intense wave of repression and arrests may lie ahead for the opposition as Aleksandr Lukashenko’s government intends to crack down on dissent.
Poland’s foreign ministry has said that the intimidation of the Union of Poles by the Belarusian authorities violates all democratic standards. Deputy foreign minister Adrzej Zalucki said in the Polish Parliament that the ministry intends to call the attention of world public opinion on the situation in Belarus. The parliament discussed the worsening of relations with Belarus today. MPs pledged to help open a radio station to provide honest information for the citizens of Belarus.
The Polish Parliament is discussing relations with Belarus, following the outbreak of a diplomatic war between Warsaw and Minsk. Poland has just told a deputy of the Belarusian ambassador to leave, in retaliation for the expulsion of a senior Polish diplomat from Minsk. The Polish foreign ministry announced a list of Belarusian citizens not allowed to enter Poland in return for the persecution of the Union of Poles in Belarus. The country’s regime declared recent election of the union’s officials null and void and ordered the reinstatement of the old leadership loyal to Lukashenko. The Union represents the 400,000 strong Polish minority and is the biggest civic organization in Belarus.
The Belarusian foreign ministry on Thursday cautioned the Polish authorities against bringing a dispute inside the Union of Belarusian Poles to the level of interstate relations, noting that such steps “are in fact far-fetched and harm the development of neighborly Belarusian-Polish cooperation.”
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski expressed concern about the expulsion of a Polish diplomat from Minsk while speaking on May 19 in the French city of Nancy where he was meeting with the leaders of France and Germany, Radio Polonia reported.
U.S. President George W. Bush delivered a quick rebuff to Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia`s Federal Security Service (FSB), on 17 May when the U.S. leader described Belarus as Europe`s last dictatorship and praised the efforts of its neighboring countries to promote freedom in Belarus. He was speaking at the International Republican Institute in Washington, which Patrushev accused recently of plotting to undermine the government of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. As RFE/RL reports, there are signs of growing international interest in Belarus as it prepares for next year`s presidential election.
Georgian Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze expressed protest on May 19 regarding the recent visit by an official delegation from the Belarus Parliament and the President’s Administration to breakaway Abkhazia without the prior notification of Tbilisi.
Poland`s big diplomatic offensive is attracting a lot of attention in Europe, with this week`s two-day summit of the 46-nation Council of Europe in Warsaw, and the call by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski for a new mandate to promote democracy, human rights and rule of law across Europe.
The most influential party of Poland, the Citizens Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO), initiated a discussion in the Sejm concerning the measures aimed at limiting relations with official Minsk. It is expected that on May 20 a voting on the packet of these measures is to take place in the parliament of Poland, the BelaPAN was informed in the head office of the PO. As one of the sanctions against the Belarusian regime, the party offered to introduce a question of repressions against the Polish minority in Belarus for debate in the structures of the EU, OSCE and the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The Permanent Council of Pro-Democracy Forces on Wednesday backed the proposal to initiate a local referendum in Minsk against Aleksandr Lukashenko’s presidential edict that Francisak Skaryna Avenue should be renamed Independence Avenue, and Pyotr Masherov Avenue, another major street in the capital city, should be renamed Victors Avenue (Prospekt Pobeditelei in Russian).
The Lenin Young Communist League of Belarus (LYLCB) plans to organize a series of events to commemorate Soviet-era Communist leader Pyotr Masherov in connection with the recent renaming of Masherov Avenue in Minsk.
Vasily Yurevich, administrator of New Life charismatic church in Minsk, faces new charges of repeatedly organising "illegal" worship, five months after he was fined 150 times the minimum monthly wage for the same "offence". He told Forum 18 News Service he was summoned by police on 18 May to be informed of the new charges, two weeks after his appeal against the earlier fine was rejected. The church`s pastor, Vyacheslav Goncharenko, has also been fined twice. The authorities say the church`s use of a former cowshed for services is illegal as the building has not been designated for religious use. The 600-strong church has already been denied official registration, meaning that all its activity is therefore illegal. In April Minsk city administration issued the church with a third official warning, though two are enough for a court to close down a religious organisation.