Washington, DC. On Friday, December 16, 2005 Students for Global Democracy
(SGD) will protest against the dictatorship in Belarus. Democracy leaders in Belarus have designated the sixteenth of every month as a "Day of Belarusian Solidarity," with protests held in cities across Belarus, throughout Europe and around the globe. Washington area students and democracy supporters will join citizens worldwide in protesting on behalf of Belarusian
>political prisoners, abducted opposition leaders, and missing journalists. “It is important for the people of Belarus to know that students in the U.S. are helping them in their fight for democracy,” said SGD President Charlie Szrom.
The leader of the All-Nation Strike Committee of Vendors, a prisoner in Ivatsevichy corrective labour colony number 22 Valery Levaneuski was ban to send letters to embassies of foreign states by the administration of the colony number 22. The BelaPAN was informed about that by his son Uladzimer Levaneuski.
Polish branch of influential human rights organization “Amnesty International” has held a wide action “Freedom of Speech in Belarus” against persecution of independent media in Belarus, Polish reporter of the Radio Svaboda Alyaksei Dzikavitsky informs.
Today in Minsk penal colony in Kalvaryjskaya Street Mikhail Marynich is to talk to his lawyer Valyantsina Shakhantsova. They plan to prepare and submit a complain to the sentence passed to Marynich a year ago by Minsk regional court, the Radio Svaboda informs.
The official internet source of the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) informs about the answer of the rector of the Belarusian State Economic University Uladzimer Shymau (Vladimir Shimov) to BSEU’s suspension from EUA (European Universities’ Association).
Human rights groups and opposition activists in Belarus have strongly criticized a set of restrictive amendments to the Criminal Code that the country’s upper house of parliament has unanimously approved, Radio Liberty reported.
The editorial office of the independent Pinsk-based newspaper “Myastsovy Chas” (publishing house “Intex-press”) has received a written notification from the administration of the hotel “Sport”, that the tenancy contract would be cancelled starting from January 31, 2006. The administration of the hotel belonging to the Belarusian Defence and Sports Technical Society (BelOSTO) does not provide any reasons for its decision.
On December 8 a telephone talk of Belarusian president Lukashenka and Russian president Vladimir Putin was held. During the conversation the heads of the states discussed a number of questions of Belarusain-Russian cooperation, the press-service of Belarusian president informs.
“The leaders who purposefully work for the good of their people, mustn’t let any revolutions - either orange, either jeans ones – happen,” told the chairman of the Chamber of representatives of the “national assembly” of Belarus Uladizmir Kanaplyou at the meeting with Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Belarus Gaziz Aldamzharov on December 8.
In the Criminal Code of the Russian Federal Soviet Socialist Republic of 1960 there was a rather harsh punishment for criticism, discrediting and insult of organs and representatives of the state and authorities. The article 70, “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”, is especially remarkable. The punishment for such actions was imprisonment for a term from 5 to 25 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
The “soviet of the republic” once again demonstrated his being only a tool of the presidential power and unanimously adopted the amendments to the Criminal and the Criminal-process Code, introduced by the KGB head on behalf of Lukashenka on 2 December. As it has been already said, the new amendments provide criminal punishment for “discrediting of the country, passing false information about the situation in Belarus to foreign and international organizations” – from fine and 6-months’ arrest to 5 years of jail.
The upper chamber of the Belarusian “parliament” unanimously approved a bill providing for criminal liability for “discredit of the state”. Now that the document was passed, President Alexander Lukashenko will sign it, Russian newspaper “Kommersant” reported.
Today, if Senator John McCain were a Belarusian politician in Belarus, it is likely that he would be in prison. If Senator Joseph Biden were a Belarusian opposition politician in Belarus, probably he would be serving time in a labor colony. What would be their crime? Questioning – no matter how benignly – the policies or actions of their country’s president.
On 7 December Ihar Maslouski, head of Brest organization of Belarusian Helsinki Committee, received the refusal from the local authorities to his application for holding of a picket devoted to the Day of Human Rights on 11 December.
The administration of George Bush expressed concern over adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code of Belarus. “As we said in our statement on December 2, 2005, the U.S. joins the European Union in once again expressing concern about developments in Belarus. The provisions of the bill amending the penal code appear to violate international norms and many of Belarus’ human rights commitments, including the rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression. This bill seems clearly aimed at intimidating Belarusian citizens and stifling free speech as the country approaches presidential elections in 2006,” – the statement in Washington by the US foreign affairs agency reads.
“The U.S. calls on the Belarusian authorities to respect democratic values and the rule of law, so that the rights of Belarusian citizens are fully respected”, - the US Department of State underlines.
Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a hard line Thursday in a dispute with neighboring Ukraine over natural gas supplies, saying that the former Soviet republic can afford to pay the market price for Russian gas. Cabinet officials reported to Putin that Russia and Ukraine had failed to strike a deal on Russian natural gas supplies to Ukraine next year.
The Belarusian Defense Ministry has finally decided to decommission some of its 19th-century small arms, the ministry said in a statement Thursday. "Analysis of small arms in service with [Belarusian] armed forces showed that certain types of weaponry have become outdated and their technical characteristics no longer satisfy modern requirements," the ministry said. "These weapons are no longer in production in manufacturer-countries and will no longer be used to equip the armed forces."