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Belarus in Focus 2011

15 Nov

Aleh Bartsevich, Wirtualna Polska (Poland)

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The most popular dark joke of this year's season

This was the situation with the mother-in-law of Aleś Michalewicz - former presidential candidate. He was arrested right after the elections, on 19th of December. „On 31st of December, while we were preparing a Christmas dinner, they called my mother and said that they will search our flat immediately‟ – says Milana, Michalewicz‟s wife. „They gave her a “choice”: they can come right now or in the morning of the next day (1st January) - at 5 o‟clock. She had chosen the first option – said Milana.

You were present on the square?You’re fired! Mobile phone as evidence

Another means used to intimidate the society is the huge volume of summons for interrogation send by the militia and the KGB. In most cases these summons are sent to those, who took part in the mass demonstrations on Independence Square in the centre of Minsk. These demonstrations took place on 19th of December. „They asked me why I was on the square, who was there, what did I hear? They told me that they can easily take the phone billing from the local operators, so they can easily find out who took part in the demonstrations‟ – said Tacciana from Mogilev.

Militia and KGB were quite clear that the two major mobile telephone operators – Velcom and MTS will deliver all the phone billings on their request. „My cousin works at the national bank and just recently two persons from his team were fired. According to the data received from the telephone companies, their mobile phones were identified near the rally that took place on 19th of December‟ – said Denis, who works in one of the independent radio stations. During the last visit of the KGB at the radio‟s editorial office, agents took all the equipment, even electrical lamps! „My cousin, who has not been on the Square and who is not interested in politics, won‟t even call me after the recent events, we have contact only via my aunt. He‟s afraid that he may lose his job‟ – said the journalist.

Those who were detained by the militia during the scattering of the demonstration are also being fired. Walancina Buśko, a lawyer from Hrodna, was participating in thedemonstrations. She was on Independence Square with her son. She has been sentenced to 10 days in prison. When she was rel eased, she found out that the national lawyer‟s council have cancelled her licence and excluded her from their ranks. „I‟ve been left with no possibility to work! No one would even listen to any of my arguments and explanations‟ – said the frustrated woman.

Specnaz caught Lukashenka’s followers

Among more than 600 people detained on 19th of December in Minsk, dozens were just random walkers. They were detained near metro stations, at bus stops, near hotels or cafeterias. These places were very often quite distant to the place where the demonstrations took place.

Michail Piluta and Żanna Busiewa were going to the train station to pick up their little daughter, who was travelling on a night train on her way back from a trip to Poland. All of a sudden, three prison vans arrived and the bus stop swarmed with militia – riot squads, with helmets and armed with batons. „They started gathering all the people from the bus stop and they put them into vans. Two of them caught me and my husband. I started yelling that this is a mistake, a misunderstanding! And in return I was hit with a police baton‟ – said the battered woman. The law court/tribunal paid no attention to any of the explanations offered by the couple. Michaił, like most of the others who were detained, has been punished with 15 days in prison and Żanna has been fined.

Swiatłana Kalinkina, reporter of the “Narodnaja Wola” newspaper, described a situation, where a woman called their office. She was crying and asking for help. „My son has been caught by the OMON on his way back from training. We have nothing in common with the opposition, we were voting for Lukashenka!‟ – said the terrified mother. According to rough estimates made by human rights organisations, the militia and specnaz caught more than 80 random people during the evening, who weren‟t part of the demonstration.

Blackmailed with a child

Those, who were leading the rally/demonstration are still held under arrest in the KGB‟s prisons and are being subject to the most sophisticated forms of psychological pressure. The son of the former presidential candidate Andrej Sannikaw has been taken by the social welfare staff straight from the kindergarten. Iryna Chalip, the mother of the little boy, is also being held in prison. The grandparents are taking care of 3-year old Daniło. „Grandmother talked to the social care representatives. They told her to write an application, so that she could be a legal guardian of the child, but they also told her (just to scare the grandmother) that the whole process is very long and laborious. Daniła will stay with us and we won‟t be sending him to the kindergarten any more‟ – said Iryna‟s father, Uładzimir Chalip.

If the grandparents decide not to pursue the paper, which will allow them to have legal care over Daniła, the boy may be taken into orphanage. According to the charges raised against his parents, they can spend 15 years in prison.

Wirtualna Polska


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