German Ambassador Martin Hecker stressed that Germany and other European countries are increasingly interested in a dialogue with Belarus. While opening the eighth edition of an annual Belarusian-German forum addressing bilateral economic and political ties in Minsk on Thursday, the diplomat noted that European Union (EU) member states have devoted more attention to Belarus recently, adding that Germany`s new government pledged to support democracy and human rights in Belarus.
Adrian Severin, special rapporteur on Belarus of the UN Commission for Human Rights, intends to inform the Belarusian authorities on what he had found out during his trip to Warsaw on November 23. "I am not optimistic about getting the reply," Mr. Severin said after his meetings aimed at gathering facts about a standoff between Belarus and Poland over the Union of Belarusian Poles (UBP).
In the framework of their visit to Belarus former deputy Environment minister of the Czech government J. Skalicki and the main Czech expert on Ecology I. Rynda from the Charles University of Prague were to visit surroundings of Chernobyl, accompanied by Belarusian ecologists. The Belarusian authorities refused to issue a pass for them. Moreover, after a visit to the settlements not far from the zone, to the town of Kamaryn, the group of experts was detained by officers of the state security agency and charged with visit to the frontier zone.
Belarus` parliament gave preliminary approval Friday to tough new penalties that would make anti-government actions punishable with prison terms of two years or more. The former Soviet republic`s security service, known under its Soviet-era name KGB, said the measures were needed to prevent the mass uprisings following elections that brought opposition leaders to power in three other former Soviet republics. "We have to protect national security and prevent color revolutions like those that happened in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan," KGB chief Stepan Sukharenko told lawmakers, referring to those countries` so-called Rose, Orange and Tulip revolutions.
The businessman Mikalai Autukhovich said to his lawyer that he would continue to the end. According to the doctors, such a long hunger-strike can cause substantial damage to health. So far there has been no response to the lawyer’s petition to the administration of Hrodna prison, which asked for hospitalization of Mikalai Autukhovich and immediate medical treatment. “I think that the issue of letting independent doctors, community representatives and journalists have access to him should be raised, all the trumpets should be sounded. His state of health must be examined, because the man can die and the authorities would not respond in any way: no man, no problem”, believes the head of the regional BPF branch Siarhei Malchyk.
Savietski DDIA of Minsk made a report registering the alleged disorderly conduct on the part of the BPF Youth coordinator Alies Kalita who had been detained for distributing the Narodnaia volia. At the same time, Alies Kalita was taken by ambulance from the police to the hospital where he is undergoing treatment after being beaten during the detention.
Alexander Lukashenko admits that state pressures Belarusian media significantly. „Yes, I admit that we apply very serious pressure on media,“ – told Lukashenko to Russian journalists on Wednesday. „But this does not mean that I am crushing them,“ he added. „Media means a lot. And now, in conditions of information war and tightened ring of enemies we cannot ignore media battles. There is pressure and I am significantly involved into this process.“
Belarusian politicians comment on the amendments to the Criminal Code, adopted by the so-called “chamber of representatives” in the first reading, and the statements of the chairman of the KGB (State Security Committee) Stsyapan Sukharenka (Stepan Sukhorenko). One of the articles proposed by the chief KGB man of the country is discredit to the Republic of Belarus. It envisaged arrest for the term for up to six months, or imprisonment for up to two years. The chairman of the KGB Stsyapan Sukharenka explained to the deputies that several camps for training militants allegedly have been acting in Belarus. According to Mr Sukharenka, “these camps have been training militants for participation in mass riots during the presidential elections next year”.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree introducing obligatory licensing of activities related to the distribution of information about natural persons in the Internet and mass media, Interfax learnt from the president`s press service. The source specified, the decree primarily applies to dating and marriage advertisements and messages.