22 September 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
7:50 am According to the senior foreign policy adviser at the Brookings Institution, former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the West should put forward positive proposals in addition to “punitive measures”.
As she pointed out at the online forum on the future of transatlantic relations, organised by the Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the use of sanctions concerning the events in Belarus is not a sufficient measure, since this will not have a significant impact on persons who have come under personal sanctions.
“We do not see the liberal world, led by the US and the EU, jointly develop a comprehensive package of measures to support Belarus, which would be aimed at re-running a transparent election with the participation of international observers or OSCE observers,” Nuland said. “We could easily arrange an economic support package that would be ready for the post-election period in Belarus. It may not work, but we are not giving them [the people of Belarus] this option.”
8:10 am On Monday evening, a Minsk City Council member came to one of the courtyards of Minsk Brilevichi district. She beseeched local residents to recall her. It was the same Olga Tesakova, who wrote a statement requesting to step down early a month ago, after the presidential election. However, in order to step down ahead of time, she needs to present good reasons: a court decision in a criminal case, illness, or a recall initiated by voters. Olga explained again why she wants to leave her position. “Sadly, Council members can do nothing about things which are happening. Neither with violence, nor with the election that has already taken place, nor with cutting down ribbons and flags. I made a rather thought-out decision: to leave the system which can do nothing for people at the moment when it should be doing its most.”
Olga met with the Interior Ministry representative and the Council of the Parliament Members chairman. She tried to explain to them what is happening in the streets. “Answering my questions last week, they promised, looking me in the eye, that there would be a representative from the Interior MInistry or the Prosecutor’s Office at the City Council session, who would tell us that, for example, 950 criminal cases of abuse of power have been opened. And then we had a City Council session last Friday, and we started the session with a very “important” topic – summing up the results of the review competition for the best bench in Minsk. Forgive me, but laughed so hard, I missed who won the contest. I was so angry!” Olga Tesakova added: several deputies proposed to form a Minsk City Council commission to investigate the cases of violence. “This topic was proposed in advance, but, as you understand, it wasn’t included in the agenda.”
At the September session, the deputies discussed the budget of Minsk and the redistribution of funds. The last straw for Olga Tesakova was the question of financing the purchase of 200 bulletproof vests for security forces.
Olga Tesakova said that people are now turning to the Minsk City Council members about violence after the election and falsifications at polling stations.
City Council member Olga Tesakova herself goes to protests, to Sunday marches. Once she went to such a march with a colleague, carrying posters “City Council against violence”.
“If you go there on Sundays, you see people’s mood, you see that every time they come there angrier. Because: “How long can they pretend that we don’t exist?” Olga hopes that other City Council members will follow her example and leave the system. “Let them see that there are dissenting people in the system!”
Not everyone who gathered wanted Olga to leave the City Council.
“If I stay – nothing will change. Whether two votes against buying bulletproof vests, or one – makes no difference. For 26 years, there has not been a single precedent for a deputy to leave. So let one leave!”
According to Olga Tesakova, there are quite some people in the Minsk City Council who don’t agree with what is now happening in the country.
“But they have things to lose… There are those who fear losing their job. Being a City Council member – it’s just a social burden. It’s much easier for me that for most others – I work in a private company, I’m a hired employee, I am young. Now imagine what it means to risk their job for people who only work in governmental institutions, who are 45, 50 years old. They are afraid to lose their jobs, their positions, where they worked for a significant part of their lives – and worked there honestly.”
At the same time, people of Minsk Moscow district are trying to recall a higher-ranking elected official – Igor Komarovsky from the House of Representatives. Now people are seeking a personal meeting with him, and they are also collecting signatures for the official to submit a report on his work for the year.
8:46 am News outlet “Nasha Niva” published the names of two more Belarusian Foreign Ministry employees who resigned on 18 September 2020. Among those who left were employees of the Foreign Ministry central office – Pavel Korotkevich and Andrei Trusov. Korotkevich was the second secretary of the Department of Foreign Economic Activity. He confirmed that he had resigned on 18 September, but decided not to disclose the details of his dismissal. Andrei Trusov served as the second secretary of the General Directorate of Asia and Africa. Trusov was the only employee in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who spoke Indonesian. Korotkevich and Trusov are graduates of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), where they studied under the Belarusian Foreign Ministry quota. Earlier, the third secretary of the Belarusian Embassy in India, Andrei Misyura, who also graduated from MGIMO, was dismissed.
8:58 am In Belarus, access to three websites was restricted – resources of the charitable foundation “Belarus of the Future”, “Dapamazhy.by” and the BYSOL solidarity foundation are not available.
The list with such resources is not available for viewing by ordinary users, but is available for Internet providers.
Now, belarus-future.org, dapamazhy.by and bysol.org find themselves on this blacklist.
The charitable foundation “Belarus of the Future” was founded by Valery Tsepkalo. Among its goals, the foundation lists supporting the development of democracy and the initiatives of an active civil society in the Republic of Belarus, as well as providing “humanitarian, legal and financial assistance to citizens of the Republic of Belarus who have suffered from political repression and political persecution.”
The Dapamazhy.by platform is designed “to help people who have suffered because of their active civic position (and not only to them)”. The goal is «to allow people to help each other financially without intermediaries».
And the BYSOL solidarity foundation collects money to help those who have been left without work for political reasons.
9:34 am The Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) expects the GDP of the Republic of Belarus to decline by 2.3% in 2020, with a recovery in the next two years. This is stated in the macroeconomic study of Belarus, prepared by the EDB’s Analytical Department.
10:16 am Russian musicians will hold a charity concert in Moscow in support of the Belarusian protesters.
As DW reports, Andrey Makarevich, Alexey Kortnev, Timur Shaov and others will take part in the Partisan Fest.
Tatyana Felgenhauer, radio station “Echo of Moscow” journalist, will be the presenter at this concert, which will take place on 28 September, in the Moscow club Live Stars.
All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Belarus Solidarity Foundation to provide financial support to the families of victims of peaceful protests.
10:36 am The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) informed banks about the possibility of applying a number of countercyclical measures during 2021, in order to mitigate the impact of negative factors on their activities. This offer is valid until the end of 2020. “Based on the analysis, we decided to provide banks with the opportunity of applying certain countercyclical measures in 2021,” reads the NBB’s letter to the banks, as recounted by Interfax. At the same time, the NBB strongly recommends that banks refuse to pay dividends at the end of 2020.
Meanwhile, the current situation in Belarus is aggravated by the financial crisis, which manifested itself in the post-election period in late August – early September in the form of withdrawal of client funds from banks and a sharp increase in foreign currency demand, leading to a record decline in gold and foreign exchange reserves by USD 1.4 billion in August. In connection with the financial crisis, on 11 September the international rating agency S&P changed the forecast on the sovereign ratings of Belarus from “stable” to “negative”, confirming the “B” rating. The reduced rating was S&P’s reaction to “increased risks to the economy, financial stability and the country’s balance of payments following the controversial presidential elections in August this year”. According to the agency, the current ability of the Belarusian government to provide support to state organizations is “largely uncertain”.
11:06 am The US dollar price continues to rise in Belarus. At the start of trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange, the dollar price grew, while the euro and the Russian ruble lost some ground.
11:23 am Lawyer Maksim Znak, the Coordination Council Presidium member, who is now in the pre-trial detention center, feels well, despite the fact that he has been on hunger strike for five days already, one of his lawyers Dmitry Laevsky told BelaPAN.
11:30 am Sviatlana Ysikhanouskaya made a deal on providing Belarus with an aid package after democratic changes.
This was announced on Tsikhanouskaya’s Telegram channel following her trip to Brussels, where she spoke to the EU Foreign Ministers, met with the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell, European Parliament President David Sassoli, and addressed the MEPs.
“Sviatlana invited the European Union to support her call for the new free election, release of political prisoners, and cessation of violence. She also invited them not to recognise the legitimacy to Lukashenko’s regime, all its decisions and agreements; to recognise the Coordination Council as a lawful representative of the people in negotiations; to expand sanctions on those guilty of falsification, illegal detention and torture; start international prosecution of these persons,” the message says.
11:42 am Alexandra Romanovskaya, Freestyle World Champion and Honored Master of Sports of the Republic of Belarus, made an appeal to the Belarusian people.
“They intimidate and pressure us, commit illegal actions against us. They use brute force. They violate the rights that we have from birth. We are deprived of freedom of movement on the streets of their hometown. Punished for freedom of speech. Accepting this means giving up your right to be human, giving your life into the cruel alien hands. How can you remain silent when people next to you sacrifice everything in order to fight for your rights and your freedom,” the video message says.
Alexandra Romanovskaya has also joined the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund, which was created on the initiative of the sports community members. From 16 August to 21 September, more than 500 sports industry members signed an open appeal to the Belarusian authorities, demanding not to recognise the 2020 presidential election results, to end the violence, and release all political prisoners.
12:05 pm Nadya Sayapina, a contemporary artist, sentenced to 15 days in prison for a performance about Belgazprombank’s art collection seized by the state in June, has been released.
12:10 pm Poland has cancelled the COVID limitations for all citizens of Belarus who have a visa. From now on, any Belarus with a visa may enter Poland under a condition of a 10-day self-isolation in the quarantine right after the arrival.
12:15 pm Activists are mentioning at list five cases of sexual abuse of detainees, but the Investigative Committee claims that there has been none
12:20 pm The launch of the nuclear power plant in Astravets has been postponed for the ninth time. Now it’s planned for early 2021.
12:22 pm According to Viktar Babaryka’s lawyer Dmitry Laevsky, it is still unclear what it is exactly that the former presidential candidate is being accused of. No significant investigative steps have been taken since August. At the same time, correspondence with Babariko is limited to almost none, however he has confirmed the readiness to continue the fight for his rights.
12:29 pm Tatiana Kanevskaya’s son Alexander Kanevsky has been detained in Gomel.
Tatiana Kanevskaya was Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s election agent and was arrested the night before elections. Alexander Kanevsky has been detained by a riot police officer in the street in Gomel. The reason for detention is not known.
12:34 pm A riot police officer has won a lawsuit against Nexta over allegedly published fakes. According to the court decision, the Telegram channel will have to pay the victim about $1,000.
12:48 pm The fight against ideological dissension borders on the absurd. In Minsk the authorities have used an elevator machine to tear off a piece of cloth with the inscription «This is not a flag».
12:53 pm What’s going on in Minsk universities:
Belarusian National Technical University – Since the morning there’s been a flash mob “Students and employees against the regime”.
Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics – Police have been around the university building since early morning.
Minsk State Linguistic University – At the moment, both teachers and students of the University are holding an assembly of solidarity between students and teachers. The police are inspecting bags and personal belongings of the students and teachers.
1:00 pm There is one more to add in the Lukashenka’s box of empty promises: the promised local referendum in Brest on the battery plant will not take place.
1:04 pm Residents of Minsk have filed a complaint to the police against law enforcement officers who shot at the window of their apartment, where the national flag of Belarus was hanging.
1:09 pm Today they have confiscated the premises of St. Hubert’s Children’s Hospice in Hrodna. The hospice director Olga Velichko was accused of embroidering flags with national symbols. Previously, the premises had been used for sewing anti-covid protective equipment for doctors.
1:22 pm The GDP of the Republic of Belarus in 2020 will decrease by 2.3%, and the recovery will take at least two years, say the analysts of the Eurasian Development Bank.
1:32 pm Former mayor of Smolevichi, Mikhail Zagortsev, who has been recently appointed to the position of a deputy head of administration in Yalta, Crimea, has recorded a video message where he condemns the actions of the security forces in relation to peaceful demonstrators.
1:40 pm The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, says that he is ready to come to Minsk to facilitate progress in resolving the crisis in Belarus, but Alexander Lukashenko refuses to cooperate with the EU.
1:51 pm They’ve started detaining people near the Belarusian State Technical University.
The students and teachers of the Belarusian State University have been holding a silent protest today in solidarity with the dismissed teacher Svetlana Volchek.
2:08 pm About 12 employees have resigned from the presidential newspaper “SB. Belarus today.” Among those having left the largest state-owned newspaper in the country – Lyudmila Rublevskaya, the writer. She had been a literary columnist since 2003.
People have left “SB” quietly, without posts in social networks, because they were warned: “If you write something – they will come for you.”
2:29 pm In connection with the threats of the prosecutor’s office to take away children from parents who disagree with the authorities and the recent high-profile case of Alena Lazarchok, whose child had been illegally kept in an orphanage for two days, mothers of many children in Belarus recorded a video message to the authorities.
2:45 pm Alexei Venediktov, chief editor of the radio station Echo of Moscow, is sure that Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin discussed the fate of the former head of Belgazprombank Viktar Babaryka at their meeting in Sochi on 14 September.
2:52 pm Maria Rabkova coordinator of the human rights activities in the “Viasna” center shall stay in custody. The court has dismissed the complaint about the unjustified detention.
2:58 pm Pavel Latushka, on the air of the social and political talk show on the First Channel of Russian TV, announced the readiness of the Coordination Council to take responsibility for the situation in the country if Lukashenko left.
3:00 pm Students of the Department of Journalism of the Belarusian State University are holding a rally just outside the building.
3:06 pm Andrey Yakimush, a reporter from Pinsk, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for supposedly participating in a rally on September 13th which he was covering, Belarusian Journalists’ Association reports.
3:11 pm On Leningradskaya street in Minsk, Belarusian State University students have formed a solidarity chain to support one of the organisers of the university strike committee Svetlana Volchek. Ms. Volchek, a teacher, is currently in jail for participating in a rally.
3:14 pm According to the @lukanomika Telegram channel, $546m in foreign currency has been taken out of Belarussian banks in September.
3:26 pm Anatoly Bokun, member of the Belaruskalii chemical plant strike committee, has been sentenced to 25 days in jail, a combined term for charges under two sections of the Administrative Code. Bokun was detained yesterday at a rally in support of miner Oleg Kudelka. Mr. Kudelka had staged a one-man protest by refusing to leave the mine at the end of his shift.
3:39 pm Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics students are holding a rally titled “Brave People’s March”, NEXTA reports.
3:50 pm Since the start of the presidential campaign in Belarus, more than 250 crimican cases were initiated against independent candidates and protesters, Viasna human rights center reports.
3:53 pm Vladislav Novozhilov, lead singer of the band “Gods Tower”, was sentenced to 8 days in jail for what the police considered “an unauthorized rally” – a concert in one of Minsk’s residential neighborhoods.
3:57 pm On Saturday, having learned that their colleagues had been detained at a protest, the actors of the Grodno Drama Theater refused to continue the performance. Today, one of the actresses, Elizaveta Milintsevich, was fired for refusing to write an explanatory note as to whether she initiated the disruption of the performance. According to Belsat, head of the Grodno region Vladimir Karanik will visit the theater tonight.
4:00 pm Since election day, at least 12 journalists have resigned from the state owned newspaper SB, which is the main propaganda outlet. Among them is a widely known Belarusian author Lyudmila Rublevskaya.
4:11 pm One of the participants of the BSUIR student march has been detained at the university building by individuals in uniforms without any insignia. This has become common practice for security services in Belarus in recent weeks.
4:14 pm Head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church metropolitan bishop Veniamin has decided that Grodno archbishop Artemii will continue to lead the diocese. Some members of his clergy, together with a number of church-goers, had collected signatures to remove him from the post. Archbishop Artemii became widely known after a video of his sermon denouncing the authorities and police brutality surfaced on the Internet.
4:45 pm Today, well known plastic surgeon Andrey Duzhy was released from the Zhodino detention center without a trial.
4:50 pm Negotiations about EU-Belarus partnership priorities should be put on hold until a new, free and fair presidential election is held in the country. This decision was made by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, with 60 members voting in favor, 7 against, and one abstaining.
5:10 pm Belarusian Kickboxing Federation, which is headed by the Internal Affairs Minister Yuri Karaev, may bar three athletes from competing in the Belarusian championship. Earlier, Sergei Skiba, Dmitry Baranov and Alexander Kupreshkin condemned election fraud and violence by the security forces. Participation of a number of unnamed athletes is also in question, @Tribuna reports.
5:35 pm Hegumenia Gavriila, who repeatedly insulted protesters in a speech at the pro-government women’s forum “For Belarus”, has apologized. She stated that her words were fuelled by “concern for the fate of her homeland”. Previously she said that the protesters are “demon-possessed and a crowd of madmen”.
5:36 pm According to @motolkohelp Telegram channel, the head of one of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus labs will be fired after his Facebook post about NAS members’ lack of reaction to the political crisis in the country was reprinted by the independent newspaper Narodnaya Volya. Nikolai Kozel is refusing to leave voluntarily, and the management is searching for a case of labor misconduct to use as a reason.
5:58 pm More than 34,000 people have made donations to a fund for those who lost their jobs or suffered otherwise due to political repressions. More than $2.1m have been raised, TUT.BY reports.
6:17 pm The performance at Hrodna Drama Theater scheduled for tonight has been canceled due to the dismissal of the actress who took part in yesterday’s protest. Currently, the theater is holding a meeting with Uladzimir Karanik, the head of the Hrodna region.
6:31 pm TUT.BY reports that according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry’s website is now functioning again after being suspended for technical reasons. In reality, the website had not been accessible for 19 days after it was hacked, as announced by the Cyber Partisans group.
6:39 pm Security forces have arrived at the building of the Hrodna Regional Drama Theater, TUT.BY reports.
6:50 pm The EU summit scheduled for 24-25 September has been postponed to 1-2 October, after one of the security personnel members, who was in contact with the President of the European Council Charles Michel, tested positive for coronavirus. It is expected that at this meeting the EU leaders will reach a decision on sanctions against senior Belarusian leadership.
7:12 pm Investigators are continuing to research facts on the shooting of Natalya Lubnevskaya, a journalist with Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva, who was wounded during an unauthorized rally in Minsk on 10 August. A criminal case has not yet been opened.
The official representative of the Criminal Investigative Committee in Minsk, Ekaterina Garlinskaya, told Interfax that the department is currently awaiting the forensic experts’ report.
7:20 pm The head of the Hrodna regional executive committee, Uladzimir Karanik has left the building of the Hrodna Drama Theater, where he met with the theater staff. The people gathered outside the theater and chanted: “Hands off our actors!”
7:21 pm People holding white-red-white flags and standing in solidarity chains were seen in some parts of the Minsk Ring Road, TUT.BY reports.
8:08 pm According to Belapan, the Ministry of Justice is investigating the circumstances of how 10 out of 15 registered political parties have now signed a resolution condemning violence in Belarus, and demanding new presidential elections. Earlier, Lukashenko threatened to have these parties de-registered.
8:33 pm TUT.BY readers report that minibuses with security forces were seen in several districts of Minsk.
8:48 pm The home of Aliaksandr Kanevsky’s parents was searched earlier today. Aliaksandr, the son of activist Tatiana Kanevskaya, was detained this morning. According to his brother, police arrived with a dog, allegedly looking for drugs in the apartment, and confiscated his computers and mobile phones.
8:52 pm In Hrodna, the artist Vladimir Skolyshev was sentenced to 5 days of administrative detention. Following the March of Justice on 20 September, police broke his car windows on Gorky Street, brutally dragged him out of his car, and detained him, reports @radiosvaboda.
9:00 pm Today, people gathered in many districts around Minsk for outdoor celebrations, concerts and lectures. Former presidential candidate Andrei Dmitriev spoke to local residents near the Riga shopping center, and the historian and heraldist Aliaksei Shalanda gave a lecture at the “Magistr” residential complex.
9:10 pm A flash mob took place in the National Library in Minsk today: a choir sang the song “Pahonia”. The video can be viewed on the @radiosvaboda.
9:59 pm One of the students of the Belarusian State University of Culture and Arts has refused to accept a scholarship given from the special fund of the President of Belarus to support talented youth, according to the “Otchisleno” (“Expelled”) Telegram channel.
“I unfortunately cannot accept this award, because of the situation in our country where the government destroys, tortures and kills its people,” the young woman said.
10:10 pm In Mahiliou, activist Valadar Tsurpanov, who had begun a hunger strike at the detention center, was hospitalized. He had been sentenced to 28 days of administrative detention for participating in the protests.
Valadar told his wife about his hospitalization over the phone. According to @radiosvaboda, Tsurpanov had to end his hunger strike at the hospital due to severe dehydration and a high fever.