The apartment of the member of the Belarusian Popular Front Party Viktar Mazyak from Baranavichy was visited by policemen. They filed a report for violation of the Article 167 of the Administrative Code (unsanctioned rally). The matter concerned holding a rally in support of independent media on December 10, when Baranavichy local activists lined up along the building of the Main Post Office, holding the “Nasha Niva” and “Narodnaya Volya” in their hands.
As the Charter’97 press center was informed, in the buildings where the democratic political organizations and mass media are placed, the electricity was switched off from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Today there were no light in the bureaus of the Party of Communists of Belarus, the Labour Party, and informational agency BelaPAN, and a number of other offices. Because of that the representatives of the headquarters of the united democratic forces of Belarus were not able to print out the lists of the members of the initiative group of the candidate to presidency Alyaksandr Milinkevich.
On the motion of the justice department of Hrodna regional executive committee Hrodna regional court has ruled to liquidate compulsively Hrodna city public association “Society of Higher Belarusian School”.
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC) are extremely concerned by the 20 December 2005 ruling of the Supreme Economic Court (SEC), which, in a reversal of its earlier ruling, reinstated enormous sanctions against the BHC that were first introduced by tax authorities almost two years ago. The SEC Presidium ordered the human rights group to pay around $75,000 in back taxes and fines. In early 2004, the Taxes and Dues Ministry Inspection of the Maskouski district of Minsk ordered the BHC to pay 155 million rubles in allegedly unpaid taxes and penalties on grants received from the European Union TACIS Programme. The State Control Committee’s Department for Financial Investigations brought tax evasion charges against BHC officials in connection with the case.
One is a Soviet-style dictator running a police state, the other the modernising leader of the world`s largest country. Their two nations are locked in an embrace that could see one swallow the other whole. But for the moment, the relationship between Aleksandr Lukashenka of Belarus and Russia`s Vladimir Putin is one of fraternal support.
The presidential election campaign has started in Belarus. Today was the last day for submitting lists of initiative groups members to the Central Election Committee, which are introducing contenders for presidential office in Minsk. Also, yesterday, President Lukashenko signed the law that introduces a new article into the Criminal Code, according to which a person, who "discredits the republic" is criminally responsible. This new law practically bans opposition candidates from conducting active election campaigns
“Lukashenka has run out of cadres. A person, who previously was engaged exclusively in ideology, becomes a head of the culture. Now the culture is not to be developed, but to be used. The latest appointments Lukashenka had to make at Belarusian TV channels are a vivid evidence that we have a propagandistic TV, not an informational one, as the two all-national TV channels are headed by experts in propaganda sphere. But I think it’s not for long. Our position is known: there should be a public TV in Belarus, and culture is not to be directed, but promoted in any way,” in this way the candidate for presidency of the united democratic forces Alyaksandr Milinkevich comments the appointments of the new Culture Minister, the chairman of the Belarusian State TV and Radio Company of Belarus, and the STV director.
Parishioners of Barysau Roman Catholic church are collecting signatures in support of Fr Robert Krzywicki, as his visa has not been renewed. “We are indignant at the fact that under a far-fetched pretext Belarusian citizens are deprived of opportunity to exercise the right to practice their religious believes. We express solidarity with the arch-priest Robert Krzywicki and demand immediate reconsideration of the decision by Belarusian authorities,” the document reads. Not only Catholics, but any concerned person can sign the letter.
Alexander Lukashenko, accused in the West of crushing all dissent in his ex-Soviet state, submitted nomination papers on Thursday to seek a new term in a March election.
Lukashenko, in power since 1994, says he will either win the contest or retire. He has vowed to cut short any attempt at mass election upheaval as occurred last year in neighbouring Ukraine.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) lacks unified standards in assessing electoral processes in various countries, Belarussian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Chairman Nikolai Lozovik told Interfax on Thursday.
Today’s reshuffle opens a whole series of appointments, including appointments, including those of government members, heads of the most important state organizations, enterprises, agencies, said Alyaksandr Lukashenka yesterday during consideration of a number of cadre questions, his press service informs. “It should not be a surprise. Since January 1 a new five-year period starts, and I would like to signal to the Belarusian people unambiguously, who would realize the objectives of the new five-year period,” A. Lukashenka said.
On December 21 an Orthodox priest Father Sergiy visited a prisoner Mikalay Autukhovich in prison hospital and told to entrepreneur’s friends that he is very weak. A reporter of the Radio Svaboda visited the prison hospital and anonymously found out the state of health of M. Autukhovich.
The chairperson of the Central Election Committee of Belarus Lidziya Yarmoshyna (Ermoshina) is convinced that the use of “administrative recourse” for carrying out any election campaign. “It’s impossible to carry out any elections in any country without an administrative leverage,” L. Yarmoshyna stated in an interview to the weekly “Obozrevatel” published on Friday.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent in an application to the Central Election Committee for registration of an initiative group of citizens for nomination of a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections in March 2006. It consists of 6,212 members. The head of the initiative group is Viktar Shejman. As we have informed, Viktar Shejman, previously a Prosecutor General of Belarus, is a non grata person in the countries of the European Union and the USA, where he is suspected of involvement to abductions of a number of oppositional Belarusian politicians and a journalist.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has made a request to the Central Election Committee to register an initiative group that would nominate him for president. In case he is nominated and wins the elections in March, he will become president of Belarus for the fourth time.
The Committee to Protect Journalists deplores a new law that makes criticism of authoritarian President Aleksandr Lukashenko and his government punishable by up to five years in prison. Lukashenko secretly signed the amendments to the penal code on December 15. They were registered on December 20 and will become law at the end of the year, the Minsk-based human rights organization Charter 97 said in a statement.
Real chekists [servicemen of the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka] should be appointed to leading positions of the KGB (State Security Committee), Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated on December 22 during the appointments of personnel to the senior positions in the KGB. “I am not afraid to say that before the presidential elections, and people should know that we shall create a powerful secret service, in order to defend interests of the state and of our people. It’s the most important thing. That is why from now on though young but devoted people, clever people should be proposed for promotion. They will master this science. That is why real chekists should be appointed to leading positions, with the qualities Dzerzhinsky once mentioned,” A.Lukashenka stated.
Two Catholic priests from Poland who have served in Belarus for more than a decade have been ordered to leave the country by year`s end, the Forum 18 news service reports. The priests` visas have not been renewed.
China’s Alcatel Shanghai Bell, a subsidiary of Paris-based equipment manufacturer Alcatel is to open a representative office in Belarus. Although the parent company already has a presence in the country Alcatel Shanghai Bell is opening under its own stead to better manage the implementation of a USD234 million equipment supply contract with Belarus’ state-controlled mobile operator Belarus Telecommunications Network (BeST) signed in September.