Vera Stramkouskaya, the lawyer, has not been allowed to visit her clients, organizers of an independent observation over the presidential elections in Belarus Mikalay Astejka and Enira Branitskaya, who have spent already three days in the KGB detention center. KGB investigator Dzmitry Kholad told to the lawyer that she was barred as a lawyer of Astrejka and Branitskaya.
David Kramer, a Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, US Embassy Advisor Constance Phlipot and the head of OSCE Office in Minsk Oke Peterson have met families of arrested political activists Mikalay Astrejka, Tsimafej Dranchuk and Enira Branitskaya. Representatives of the USA and the OSCE stated their concern over the arrests of opposition activists in the run-up to the elections in Belarus, and expressed support to the families of the arrested.
February 23, an investigator of Piershamayski ROVD phoned to one of the coordinators of youth resistance movement “Zubr” Aliaksiey Shydlouski and “Zubr” press secretary Aliaxandar Atroschankau and offered them to come as witnesses February 24 for the examination on the case of one of the “Youth Front” leaders Artur Finkievich.
As the public organization “Belarusian Association of Journalists” was told in the registration department of the Ministry of Information, a notice on article 5 of the Law “On the press and other Mass Media” had been passed for the newspaper “Zgoda” editorial house in connection with the publications of the cartoons of prophet Muhammad in issue #6, 18- 26 February 2006. This is the second notice on article 5 passed to the newspaper in 2006, hence, according to the Ministry, the edition can be closed down. As the agency BelTA reports, February 23 the Belarusian Public Prosecutor’s Office made a statement giving a legal esteem for the publication, and addressed the Ministry of Information with a “presentation” requiring to take measures on temporal ceasing or even liquidation of the edition.
An action of solidarity with the Belarusian democratic forces is to take place March 19, in New York. “The presidential election is due on that day in Belarus, and the results can be forged, - the organizers of the action, members of the Belarusian Diaspora write. - The regime will use every possibility to keep the presidency for Lukashenka. That is why the democratic forces of Belarus need our support”. Solidarity actions will be held in Belarus and all over the world.
In the village of Kazlouschyna, Dziatlauski district, a district police officer tore off announcements of the time and place of the meeting with candidate for the Presidential post Alyaxandr Milinkevich. The announcements were stuck on special information boards for housing and communal services, Radio Svaboda reports.
The Minsk Executive Committee adopted a resolution granting 39 open places for election agitation. Today an appendix has been added to the resolution. 2 premises for meetings were granted in each district of the city. Nevertheless, it appeared to be rather complicated to implement this resolution. “I deem the city administration is staging an obscene agitation script. Today I have made an attempt to find a place for holding meetings of Alyaxandr Milinkevich with voters. Having visited a range of the indicated places I discovered that all of them are located in the suburbs and it would be quite difficult to reach them with the public transport. The power disrespects the people totally”, - head of the Minsk city headquarters of democratic forces candidate for the Presidential post Alyaxandr Milinkevich Valiantsina Paliavikova told the UCP press-service.
On February 23 Belarusian delegation left for Vietnam. It was headed by the chairman of the “house of representatives” Uladzimir Kanaplyou. But not Kanaplyou, but Alyaksandr Lukashenka was to go to Vietnam. At the parliamentary meetings of the two countries and in official media his visit has been announced many times. Last time, on January 9, 2006, the head of the international affairs committee of the “council of republic” Mikalay Charhinets stated that “visit of Alyaksandr Lukashenka to Vietnam, planned for February this year, will help boost bilateral Belarusian -Vietnamese co-operation”. Why Lukashenka cancelled his visit to Vietnam? Is he occupied because of the election campaign? But as the CEC has stated recently, he had not taken a leave, and would not go on leave. It looks like there are no reasons for not going to Vietnam.
State Security Committee (KGB) of Belarus has thwarted the activity of an illegal public association called Partnership Civic Initiative that was set up by an American non-governmental organization, spokespeople for the KGB press service said.
Controversy over the publication of drawings of the Prophet Muhammed continued to grow as an international press freedom crisis on Thursday as Indian authorities imprisoned a magazine editor and Belarusian prosecutors opened a criminal probe into a weekly newspaper. In each case, the publications said they printed one or more cartoons to provide context for the worldwide furor that has now claimed at least 48 lives.
In Zhodzina, Barysau, Vaukavysk, Salihorsk, and other town the activists of youth movements are summonsed to the police stations and threatened by the dismissal of their parents. Their flats are searched. But the activists of the movements are convinced that all these events show that changes are coming to the country.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is planning to open representative office in Belarus capital Minsk in order to help the democratic changes in the country, Rene van Der Linden, chairman of PA CE announced during a conference in Prague, BBC reports. This aims to lessen the isolation into which the country was pushed.
The U.S. Department of State has condemned authorities in Belarus for arresting leaders of the public association Partnership Civic Initiative, deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said on Thursday. According to Ereli, the Belarusian authorities raided the office of that civil society group, seizing documents and equipment. “Actions like this call into question the commitment of the government of Belarus to conduct upcoming elections freely and fairly,” Ereli said referring to the presidential election in Belarus on March 19.
The Central Election Committee has finally edited the tax declarations of the President and his family. Last summer Lukashenka told the Russian TV channel TVC he earned “a thousand or a thousand and one hundred” dollars a month. But according to the recent information, the Belarusian leader earns two times more. It is fixed in the declaration that in 2005 Aliaxandar Lukashenka’s earnings totaled Br59mln 172thousand. Divided by 12, the President’s salary of 2005 equals Br4mln 931thousand. This makes about $2290 per month. And, as “KP v Belarusi” (the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus”) calculated, given that last year an average Belarusian salary amounted at $218, Lukashenka gets 10 folds more than an average Belarusian.