7 September 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
7:09 am According to the human rights center “Viasna” (not recognised by Belarusian authorities), on Sunday two hundred people were arrested in Minsk alone. The list (in Belarusian) containing 194 names is published on “Viasna” website. Human rights activists also report large numbers of arrests in other Belarusian cities where the Unity March was held.
7:41 am The news portal naviny.by cites the opinion of EU Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell (published originally on his Twitter account).
“Once again, impressive mass demonstrations in Minsk & other cities show determination of Belarusian people to achieve their freedoms, rights & democracy,” writes Borrell.
He concluded the tweet by repeating the EU position on the need for inclusive national dialogue.
7.59 am In Grodno, several thousand people took part in the Unity March on 6 September. Dozens of demonstrators were brutally arrested by riot police.
The protesters were holding white-red-white flags, posters “Die Hard”, “Stop catching Belarus”, “OMON, stop it”, sang protest songs, chanted “Long live Belarus”.
As protesters were passing through Vishnevets residential district, about a hundred riot policemen ran out to meet them at the “Brest” supermarket. Dozens of protesters were brutally detained, beaten with truncheons, kicked, dragged on the ground, and gassed.
Young men, girls and minors were arrested indiscriminately. The arrests were led by the deputy head of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Grodno Regional Executive Committee Vitaly Stasyukevich and the head of the Grodno OMON Viktor Kravtsevich.
8:25 am Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomas Petricek said that the EU sanctions against representatives of the Lukashenko regime (at least 20 people involved in electoral fraud and violence against protesters) will be imposed. The sanctions will be put in action no later than 21 September. The list of sanctioned individuals may be expanded in the coming days, writes DW.
8.52 am The Belarusian Journalist Association demands the release of journalists arrested during the protests on 5 and 6 September in Minsk and Vitebsk.
On the morning of 7 September, according to the Journalist Association, three media representatives remain behind bars.
To recap, “Zeliony Portal” (“Green Portal”) journalist Anastasia Zakharevich was arrested in Minsk on 5 September. Charges against her are not known. “Radio Ratsiya” journalist Artyom Sizintsev, who was arrested during the dispersal of a demonstrator column on Chebotarev Street in Minsk on 6 September, has not yet been released. Today the trial of a journalist is to be held in the Zavodskoy district court in Minsk.
Journalist Dmitry Kazakevich was arrested in Vitebsk yesterday. He spent the night in an isolation ward and is to be tried today.
9:30 am The National Bank of Belarus reports that, regretfully, during August 2020 the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves were reduced by 15.8% or $ 1.3996 billion, which is an anti-record in the entire history of independent Belarus.
The main reason why the gold and foreign exchange reserves shrank is that funds were exhausted in order to satisfy the sudden demand for foreign currency.
The increased demand for foreign currency was the economic part of Belarusians’ reaction to the rigged election results and harsh violence, coupled with humiliation and torture of citizens who went out for rightful protests.
10.36 am According to the Telegram channel NEXTA, the Ministry of Internal Affairs press service stated: “Yesterday 633 people were arrested for violating the state legislation on mass events. 363 were placed in detention to await the court hearing of administrative cases.”
10:50 am It was announced that “Zeliony Portal” (“Green Portal”) journalist Anastasia Zakharevich was accused of participating in an unauthorized public event (Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code), the Belarusian Journalist Association (BJA) reports.
Zakharevich was arrested in the city center of Minsk on 5 September, while she was covering the women’s march. For a long time, her family and colleagues did not know where she was.
BJA demands the release of all journalists arrested while carrying out their professional duties.
11:12 am Maria Kolesnikova abducted in the center of Minsk by unidentified persons.
On the morning of 7 September, near the National Art Museum, unidentified people grabbed Coordination Council member Maria Kolesnikova, put her in a minibus with the sign “Communications”, and drove away in an unknown direction. TUT.BY reader Anastasia, who eyewitnessed the event, told the news portal about this.
According to Anastasia, everything happened around 10.05 near the National Art Museum. Anastasia saw Maria Kolesnikova.
“I wanted to come over to her, to talk and thank her, but then I changed my mind, I thought she must be tired as it is. I went on my way, and then I thought, I should turn around and show Maria a heart (sign). Near the museum I saw a dark minibus, “Communications” written on its side, and “Sobol” brand name on the back. I walked on, and heard the sound of a phone falling on the asphalt, some sort of stomping, I turned around and saw masked people in civilian clothing pushing Maria into that minibus, her phone flies out of her hands, one of those people grab the phone, jumps into the minibus, and they take off,” recounts Anastasia.
Kolesnikova’s phone is available, but she does not answer calls.
Coordination Council spokesman Anton Rodnenkov told TUT.BY that at 10:13 Maria was alone in the city center on business. Since 11 o’clock, Rodnenkov’s phone has been unavailable.
11:22 am The Telegram channel “Tipichnaya Belarus” (“Typical Belarus”) informs that Anton Rodnenkov (Coordination Council spokesman) and Gleb German (Viktor Babarika’s headquarters’ member) are not reachable on the phone.
11:49 am The Telegram channel “Tipichnaya Belarus”, with reference to the Telegram channel “Mingorispolkom” (“Minsk City Executive Committee”), informs that Minsk City Day (next weekend, 11-12 September) will be celebrated this year without the traditional mass events.
Officially, this decision was made because of coronavirus.
12:06 pm The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Investigative Committee and the State Control Committee deny that Maria Kolesnikova and other members of the Coordination Council were detained today. Perhaps they will try to expel Kolesnikova from the country, as it has been done with Tikhanovskaya and Kovalkova.
12:10 pm The date of Lukashenko and Putin’s meeting in Moscow was announced: it’s planned for 14 September.
12:11 pm Since morning, police officers are patrolling Minsk State Linguistic University. Security forces’ minibuses are parked nearby. “Tikhari” (“creepers”: people in civilian clothing, who monitor and document protests) lurk in the hall.
12:15 pm The artist Nadezhda Sayapina was arrested for taking part in mass events – her acquaintances deny that she participated.
In July, Nadezhda ran a performance titled “Property” in the “Art-Belarus” gallery, involving artists with works tied to their backs that they had previously displayed in the gallery.
12:26 pm The Lithuanian Foreign Minister demanded the immediate release of Maria Kolesnikova.
12:48 pm Belarusians demonstrate phenomenal solidarity with those who hid protesters on Sunday: O’Petit cafe had its door knocked out yesterday by the head of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, Nikolai Karpenkov. This morning Minsk residents lined up to support the workers and owners of the cafe.
1:07 pm Yesterday, Minsk City lifeguards came to the rescue of people who jumped into the water in Victory Park, while fleeing from OMON (riot police) and their truncheons. This was not overlooked by the authorities: 6 of the lifeguards who helped people to the other bank were arrested. They are now awaiting trial.
1:15 pm According to the “Golos” (“Voice”) platform, more than 170,000 people took part in yesterday’s protests. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs counts 31,000.
1:22 pm The Kremlin provided its first commentary on Lukashenko’s “intercepted” conversation between Berlin and Warsaw. According to Putin’s Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov: „Perhaps it is not for us (the Kremlin. – Ed. Note) to judge the usefulness and value of this record,“ he said.
1:26 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya commented on the possible abduction of Kolesnikova, Anton Rodnyankov and Ivan Kravtsov:
“The authorities are committing acts of terrorism, there is no other name for it. The abductions are an attempt to disrupt the work of the Coordination Council and intimidate its members. The authorities are wrong if they think it will stop us.”
1:34 pm Residents of Novaya Borova (one of the protesting districts of Minsk with lots of Belarusian national flags on display) report that since morning “people in civilian clothing” have come calling to their apartments, trying to get inside.
1:39 pm Despite the monstrous pressure, the Minsk State Linguistic University students continue to protest. Another event began today. Approximately 20 people with posters are protesting in the foyer of the main building. Students of Baranovichi State University and Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts joined in support of the Linguists and held protests near their universities.
1:49 pm In an attempt to stop young people collectively leaving the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), Mogylev State A. Kuleshov University found a solution: the heads of BRYU decided to go on vacation.
1:57 pm The Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevicius, commented on Maria Kolesnikova’s abduction:
“Instead of starting a conversation with the Belarusian people, the current authorities are trying to cynically eliminate them one by one. Abducting Maria Kolesnikova in the centre of Minsk is shameful. It compares to the NKVD’s Stalinist methods, used in Europe in the 21st century. She must be released immediately.”
1:58 pm Pavel Latushko confirmed that in spite of the pressure, the Coordination Council will continue its work.
1:59 pm At Brest University of Technology, students and some of the lecturers (overall, approx. 80 people) joined in a solidarity protest. The police arrived. The University Rector addressed the students and promised that all students arrested the day before will be released within an hour.
2:07 pm The Belarusian Border Committee refused to comment on the information that Maria Kolesnikova has crossed the border.
2:14 pm It was revealed that the body of 25-year-old Alexei Demidov was found on 5 September. According to his mother, who could only see her son in the morgue, the young man had bruises and a pierce-wound at the back of his head. The Investigative Committee claims that there are no signs of violent death.
2:22 pm As police forces were dispersing the Unity March participants yesterday, more than 20 workers of Minsk factories were arrested. MAZ strike committee leader, Yevgeny Bokhvalov, was among them. Late in the evening, they were transported to the Zhodzina detention centre.
2:26 pm Pavel Latushko says he was given an ultimatum: either he leaves Belarus, or will be prosecuted.
2:53 pm A press conference by Olga Kovalkova and Pavel Latushko, dedicated to the latest political events in Belarus, will take place at 15.00 in Minsk. It will be streamed from Olga Kovalkova’s Facebook page.
3 pm Since 10 August, at least one more minor has been arrested. Nikita Zolotaryov participated in a peaceful protest during the day on August 9. The next morning he was arrested by the police while wearing nothing but his underwear. Nikita was beaten so hard he ended up in intensive care. He is now in a pre-trial detention center, and his parents‘ house is being searched.
3:00 pm A press conference with Olga Kovalkova and Pavel Latushko has begun. At the conference, they will answer key questions about the current situation in Belarus.
The event was streamed live on YouTube.
3:03 pm Following the solidarity rallies where students sang “Warriors of Light”, there were a number of arrests. The deputy dean for educational work took the students to talk with the police, afterwards the students returned to classes to grab their stuff and left with the police.
3:15 pm At the press conference of the Coordination Council dedicated to the council’s strategy following Maria Kolesnikova’s arrest, Pavel Latushko declared: “We plan to strengthen the international activities of the Coordination Council so that hundreds of thousands, millions of Belarusians who took to the streets do not feel abandoned by the international community. ...> We plan to maintain contacts with Russia, the European Union, the United States.”
3:36 pm The European Union commented on the abduction of Kolesnikova.
“Instead of communicating with the citizens of Belarus, the outgoing government is trying to cynically eliminate them one by one. The kidnapping of Kolesnikova in Minsk is a shame. In the 21st century, the Stalinist methods of the NKVD are applied. She must be released immediately,” – wrote the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius.
“Arbitrary arrests and abductions of people for political reasons in Belarus, including the brutal actions this morning against Andrei Yegorov, Irina Sukhy, and Maria Kolesnikova, are unacceptable. The authorities must stop intimidating citizens and violating their own laws and obligations,” – wrote the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell.
3:45 pm The press service of the Coordination Council published a video, which possibly captured the moment of Maria Kolesnikova’s detention. It is interesting that a man in a working uniform departs from a car with the inscription “Communication”, in which Kolesnikova was forcibly dragged.
3:50 pm The British newspaper ‘The Times’ and the anti-corruption organization ‘Transparency International’ have published an investigation, which claims that the wife and the daughter of Belarusian businessman Vladimir Peftiyev own 12 apartments in London’s West End. The total value of the property is about £ 18 million. In the early 2000s, Peftiev was known as “the wallet of the last dictator of Europe”.
4:15 pm Good news! The glass door of the O’petit cafe, which was smashed yesterday by representatives of the Minsk police, has already been repaired. It took less than a day to collect the money and replace the glass.
There is a huge queue at the cafe all day – as a sign of solidarity with the affected business, Minsk residents are coming to support it.
According to the management, more than 300 orders have already been fulfilled in the first half of the day, while the day’s norm is about 120.
4:40 pm A special service has been formed in Latvia, which promptly processes requests from Belarusian entrepreneurs and proposes possible solutions, including the so-called “startup visa” or the European Union “blue card”, that is, issuing a temporary residence permit for highly qualified professionals and their families.
In total, Latvia has expressed its readiness to host about a hundred Belarusian companies.
4:45 pm TUT.by has received a warning from the Ministry of Information because of the article “The State Control Committee will be able to pay large bonuses to employees who distinguish themselves in high-profile cases”. According to the Ministry, the article contains false information and can “harm the state or public interests”.
This is the second warning made to TUT.by. The previous warning was issued exactly one month ago, on 7 August. According to the Law on Mass Media, if the owner of an online publication receives two or more warnings within a year, access to the resource could be restricted. This decision is on the Ministry of Information.
4:50 pm According to the representative of ‘Belneftekhim’ Alexander Tishchenko, the transfer of oil flows from Lithuania to Russian ports is planned eventually.
“Meetings and necessary contacts are expected in the near future. Details will be available as the results of these meetings”, – commented Tishchenko.
4:57 pm Paddy wagons and buses have arrived at Independence Square.
5:47 pm Ales Sobolevsky, a reporter for 6tv.by, has been released from the police detention center in Mogilev after spending 8 days in jail.
Mr. Sobolevsky was arrested on 30 August during the March for Peace and Freedom. He then announced a hunger strike as a sign of protest.
6:00 pm In connection with the brutal detentions of activists, peaceful protesters and people passing by, as well as the abduction of members of the Presidium, the Coordination Council issued a strong statement (abstract). The Council called on the Belarusian authorities to make the first steps towards the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the country.
The Council also called on the Belarusian citizens not to succumb to any provocations, not to respond to violence with violence, but to make every effort to bring the perpetrators/criminals to justice exclusively by law.
6:10 pm The Ministry of Information issued another warning to TUT.BY news portal. The formality, which became a pretext for the notice, was an error in the news article. According to the Law on Mass Media of Belarus, if a mass media outlet receives more than two written warnings within a year, the access to the network publication may be restricted.
The first warning was issued against TUT.BY precisely a month ago, on 7 August.
7:00 pm Hundreds of thousands of people took part in the Unity March in Minsk on Sunday. When the demonstrators were leaving the rally, riot police started brutally detaining and beating people.
To escape from the violence of the security forces some protesters had to jump in the river Svisloch. Members of the Society for Development of Water Transport and Passenger Safety (OSVOD), patrolling the river, took to the rescue of the protesters in the water. They provided the rescued people with warm blankets and transported them to the opposite side. Later the OSVOD rescuers, who so bravely saved people’s lives on the water, were detained and taken to the Minsk Central police office.
At present, eight members of OSVOD are still in detention at the notorious Okrestina pre-trial detention centre and are awaiting their trial.
7:20 pm Over 171,618 people with the Belarusian mobile telephone numbers registered on the Voice Platform which confirmed the number of people who wished to take to streets/to take part in the demonstration yesterday.
“In reality, the number was far greater because not all the demonstrators were aware of the Voice Platform or were not able to use the chat-bot”, said Pavel Liberts, one of the Voice Platform founders.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 31 thousand people took part in yesterday’s demonstration.
7:45 pm Instead of taking the write-red-white flag down, one of the officers from the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergencies straightened it. Then he climbed down, took his mask off and joined the crowd of demonstrators. However, the other officer climbed up and took down the flag.
In the evening people came to the Fire Station No 35 to thank the emergency response worker for showing his solidarity with the protesters and not taking down the flag.
8:15 pm According to Viktar Babaryka’s official channel, relatives of Maria Kolesnikova officially reported the disappearance of Maria to the police. The police registered the application and reported that the search has been announced.
9:21 pm The actors of the Kupala Theatre are performing a concert at the Peremen Square (Changes Square). The authorities have shut down theatre right after the presidential elections. It’s director, Pavel Latushko was fired and joined the Coordination Council. Video1, Video2
10:15 pm Since her abduction, Maria Kolesnikova has been missing for 12 hours. She hasn’t been in touch and her whereabouts are unknown.
10:45 pm Riot police arrived at Chervyakov street courtyard where Kupala Theatre actors had their performance, and the “Changes DJ” greeting was presented to the audience. 2 people have been detained by the police.