28 August 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
8:00 am Over 260 people were detained in Minsk on 27 August, including 50 journalists. According to the Human Rights Centre Viasna, five more people were detained throughout the country.
TUT.BY: Around 100 people were released late at night after the detention reports were drawn-up.
8:30 am Aleksander Vasilevich – a businessman, owner of the advertising agency Vondel/Hepta that, in particular, leases offices to non-government media resources, and of the modern art gallery Ў, where a lot of new-thinking projects have found their home – was arrested in Minsk (according to kyky.org).
Yesterday the advertising agency’s offices had been searched.
9:00 am Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has recorded her video address to Belarusian teachers appealing to them to remain honest and open with children and parents who will be coming to school on 1 September. She also called on them to show solidarity and support to those teachers fired for their refusal to agree with the ideology propagated by the current regime.
9:20 am The Czech Republic is granting over 500,000 euros of humanitarian aid to victims of police actions during the peaceful protests in Belarus, announced the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic, Tomáš Petříček. The money will go to support those who have suffered during the brutal suppression of peaceful protests, for their medical and psychological support.
9:30 am The Ministry of Defence warns of the relocation of a significant amount of the military machinery to the Grodno region, close to the border with Poland and Lithuania.
Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that no discussions on any border shift or other geopolitical issues are on the agenda in Poland.
10: 00 am TUT.BY: A policeman from Baranovichi (Brest region), who wished to remain anonymous, described the events during the first days of protests and the events that followed:
When we started pushing out the crowd, at some point the military ran and started to detain the protesters. Many of us were confused. We were shocked. I looked at my colleagues and saw bewilderment on their faces. It seemed to me that everything happening was a nightmare, that this could not be happening in our country.
10:20 am Currency exchange rates in Belarus keep rising. This morning, the highest US dollar exchange rate of 2.85 roubles (and 3.35 roubles/euro) was recorded. Citizens report that many currency exchange points have run out of currency.
11:00 am NASHA NIVA: Ukraine is considering the introduction of sanctions against the current authorities in Belarus due to the falsification of the results of the presidential elections and the suppression of peaceful protests, as stated by the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Dmitry Kuleba. Earlier, the Minister made a statement that Ukraine was suspending all official contacts with Belarus until the situation in Belarus has completely stabilized. He also stressed that it didn’t mean a severance of diplomatic relations.
12:00 pm Minsk City Executive Committee laments the trampled flowerbeds in Independence Square.
According to the videos and witness accounts, it was the riot police (OMON) who chose to stand on the lawn yesterday.
12:05 pm Pavel Latushko reports being under constant surveillance by the special services. The dismissed director of the Janka Kupala National Theatre has written in his Telegram: “I’m ‘taken care of’ 24 hours a day. Now I am driving accompanied by the same convoy as yesterday morning, and actually the whole day long”.
On August 27, Pavel reported seeing masked snipers in a car outside his home.
12:20 pm At night in Minsk, someone shunted the car of deputy and winner of “Miss Belarus” beauty contest, Maria Vasilevich. Earlier, Maria had spoken about protests in Belarus on her Instagram, asking to stop violence and aggression towards people who couldn’t defend themselves. She also visited the victims of the police violence in the hospital and apologized to people.
12:27 pm According to Anton Motolko’s Telegam-channel, a bus without registration plates has driven up to the court of the Soviet district. Allegedly the people inside the bus are those detained yesterday.
12:35 pm According to Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President assumes that the security forces reserve for Belarus will not be used, and Minsk will not face a deterioration of the current situation.
He didn’t specify how many people are in the “reserve” of Russian military forces. All he said was that it’s a “pretty reasonable figure”.
12:40 pm Actors of the National Kupala Theatre have started bringing their awards and diplomas to the entrance of the theatre building and more than 100 people have gathered. They’re singing “Kupalinka” and holding portraits of Belarusian political prisoners.
12:45 pm Lukashenko on the situation in the country: « This jamboree is coming to its end – we have to deal with the economy. » He has also stressed that there should be no difference between state-owned and private enterprises: effective work should be established everywhere, modern technologies should be used and, consequently, high results should be achieved.
12:46 pm Trials of journalists detained yesterday are going on in Minsk. The defendants are charged with “taking active part in a rally not authorized by Minsk City Executive Committee and chanting ‘Long live Belarus!’ ”.
However, answering the advocate’s question, journalist Alexander Vasyukovic explained that he had shouted no slogans, because it contradicts journalistic ethics.
There are two witness videos clearly showing journalists in the square: they didn’t take part in the rally and shouted no slogans.
1:09 pm People have formed a chain of solidarity in the Uruchie district of Minsk.
1:10 pm TUT.BY reports that a son of the famous Belarusian singer and song-writer Andrei Melnikov, Martin Melnikov, was detained at a rally near the Kupala National Theatre.
1:15 pm During his visit to the Orsha region, Lukashenko made it clear that “equal conditions” would be provided only to enterprises that are “loyal to the state.”
Lukashenko also promised to respond to the sanctions imposed by European countries: “They have gone too far and forgotten what Belarus is. And they think that they can ‘bend’ us; can frighten us with their tanks and missiles … Let’s see who will be scared. We will show them what sanctions are, we will put them in their place”.
According to Lukashenko, Europe will have to look for a new route to supply products to Russia.
1:50 pm Activist Anna Kanyus, detained in Brest yesterday for taking part in the Women’s Solidarity Chain in Minsk on August 17, has been fined 270 Belarusian rubles (101 U.S. dollars).
1:55 pm In Minsk, scientists have started the “Bathhouse Day” action in support of clean science. They arrived at the academy wearing towels and bath hats and armed with posters. According to journalists, a large crowd of security forces and informants was observed in the vicinity.
2:00 pm Lukashenko said that NATO has moved eighteen American F-16s to the border of Belarus. He has no doubt.
2:10 pm Viktor Snezhitsky, the rector of the Hrodna State Medical University, who previously publicly denounced the lawlessness of the security forces and supported the protesters, has been fired.
2:25 pm The issue of imposing sanctions against Belarusian officials will be discussed at the meeting of EU foreign ministers on August 27-28 in Berlin.
2:38 pm The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Linas Linkevičius, has commented on Alexander Lukashenko’s threats to impose sanctions against Lithuania and Poland. Linkevičius considers this behavior of Lukashenko “natural”. “The autocrat leader of Belarus is striving to maintain his position at any cost. Let’s see how it will look in practice, because such statements have been made more than once. I think they should also take into account their interests – the country is now in a very difficult economic situation,” Linkevičius said.
2:40 pm Designer Olga Kardash has launched a collection of T-shirts with the logos of the striking factories. Half of the profit from their sale will go to the Solidarity Fund to support the factory workers and victims of political repression.
2:55 pm A few minutes ago, in the center of Minsk, a young man was brutally arrested by the traffic police. The reason for the detention is as yet unknown.
3:05 pm According to Nasha Niva, the heads of more than 20 NGOs and artistic associations from all over Belarus held a panel discussion, creating a joint statement addressed to the current authorities. The document compares the recent actions of Belarusian law enforcement to atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and Stalin’s brutal regime.
3:06 pm In an attempt to intimidate Belarus’ Baltic neighbors (earlier insinuating that the Lithuanian government was inciting unrest in the country), Alexander Lukashenko made the following claim: “We’ll see how they [Lithuanians] are going to cope without us. 30% of the funds in the Lithuanian state budget come from our cargo traffic passing through their territory”.
Opposition Telegram channel @beltea has investigated the claim: in fact, “30%” refers to Belarus’ share of cargo traffic going through the port city of Klaipeda, as opposed to the country’s total expected income of 20bn euros in 2020. In 2019, total profits from all Klaipeda port operations were 28m euros, which means that Belarusian traffic only contributed 8.4 million, making up 0.07% of the country’s income.
3:28 pm Beltea channel has also responded to Lukashenko’s earlier claim about American F-16 military aircraft being moved from Berlin to Belarusian borders. He added that now the jet fighters could reach Belarus in just 20 minutes. “F-16s fly at a speed of 35 km/min, so 20 minutes away would mean a 700 km (435 mi) distance from Belarus. It is safe to assume that the jets are still stationed somewhere near Berlin,” @beltea countered in a post.
3:51 pm TUT.BY reports: Linas Linkevičius, Lithuanian Foreign Minister, has given his opinion on Mr Lukashenko’s recent demeanor by saying: “Some of his actions do seem erratic, but it is difficult to make any clear-cut assessments. This behaviour might be a natural defensive reaction of someone attempting to stay in power at any cost while disregarding the situation in the country and the pressure of the international community”.
4:10 pm According to TUT.BY, Ekaterina Andreeva, a reporter working for Belsat, has been released after spending the night at the Oktyabrsky district police department. The police are finalizing her detention report, which accuses her of chanting slogans. Ekaterina was detained while working a live broadcast.
4:43 pm The journalists who were released from the police department told the press that the staff wanted them to confess to participating in an unauthorized demonstration and chanting opposition slogans, as reported by TUT.BY.
5:00 pm According to reports, seven Belarusian banks have stopped issuing loans to the public.
5:25 pm A number of police detention vans and regular vans with no registration plates have been spotted in central Minsk.
5:38 pm Employees of the HTP (Hi Tech Park Belarus) are holding a rally in a show of solidarity with the opposition.
5:45 pm Belarusian human rights watchdogs have included nine more people in the list of political prisoners after they were charged with participating in mass civil unrest under the article 293 of the penal code.
6:10 pm A peaceful assembly-action called “Numb silence” was held in Grodno. The protesters were standing quietly but still were approached by people in civilian clothes without any insignia and threatened the protesters with detention.
6:16 pm Vitaly Krasnitsky, an activist of the Tyre Manufacturer Works “Belshina” Strike Committee, was detained in Bobruisk. Today, at about 4.30 pm, two men in tracksuits came to Vitaly’s apartment and suggested that he “come for a chat.” He refused, although later he agreed to “just have a walk and talk.” Near the Bobruisk City Executive Committee police office in Minskaya Street, Vitaly the two men twisted Vitaly’s arms behind his back and took him inside the police building.
6:20 pm The photographers Vadim Zamirovsky (TUT.BY) and Vladimir Gridin (“Radio Svoboda”) spent seven hours near the police office in order to get back their equipment (cameras, memory cards, telephones) which had been seized by the riot police yesterday. Now they’ve been invited to enter the police building and have been there for the last hour and a half.
Yesterday they were detained in the afternoon and held in the detention center till late at night. A day after the detention, the police still haven’t explained the reasons thereof.
7:00 pm The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus responded to their Ukrainian counterparts with regard to their statement on the suspension of contacts between the countries. The ministry stated that the calls for new presidential elections are regarded by the Belarusian side as an attempt to interfere in Belarus’ internal affairs.
7:25 pm Over a hundred people are standing in the solidarity chain in the Independence Square. Most of them are young ladies. Police are walking in front of them, up and down the chain, warning that the assembly hasn’t been authorized.
“And were the beatings [of peaceful protestors] authorized?”, – the protesters retorted.
7:33 pm Riot police trucks with red-green flags arrived at the square. Riot police and people in civil clothes [recording a video of protesters] have approached the Red Church. The women are holding tighter in the chain.
7:40 pm Riot police have appeared on Independence Square. The police actions follow the same script as yesterday: they started apprehending people asking men to go to the riot police trucks, young ladies are asked to leave the unauthorized assembly.
7:45 pm The warnings “Do not provoke active actions, do not provoke the use of physical force and riot control weapons” are heard from the loud-speaker on the building of Minsk City Executive Committee.
A well-known protestor, 83-year old gentleman Yan Hryb, had arrived at the Independence Square and was immediately approached by the riot police.
“Am I allowed to stand in the square of my native city?”, – the retired pensioners asked.
Ladies standing in the solidarity chain started to sing the famous song “Kupalinka”. Riot police are still standing close to them.
A middle-aged woman asked the police: “Please step aside! We would like to see the square.”
However, the riot police surrounded the female protesters in a tight circle. Ladies are signing louder and louder.
7:50 pm The “solidarity chains” are standing now in many other Minsk districts.
7:55 pm “Please move to a safe distance for your own safety”. Such a warning was given to the TUT.BY journalist who came “too close” to the protesters near the Red Church in the opinion of the riot police.
8:00 pm Several entries and underground crossings to the Independence Square have been blocked by the police. Police are informing the pedestrians that there is a concert in the square.
8:05 pm Ladies which were surrounded by the riot police are let free. Protesters from the solidarity chain are waving their hands and flowers to the riot police and are marching along Independence Avenue. Riot police keep following them.
8:15 pm A pro-Lukashenko gathering is now taking place at the stadium – most of the participants are athletes and officials. A paratrooper with a red-green flag has been seen in the sky above but the most interesting person here for us is Lukashenkp’s eldest son Viktor. Usually quiet and avoiding interviews, today he spoke with “Russia Today” journalists
“Pull yourself together, think and make the right conclusion”, – this is the message he is sending to his father’s political opponents.
The independent journalist Anton Motolko believes that it is not a coincidence that Viktor Lukashenko has appeared in public now, as it’s widely believed that he is currently in charge of riot police.
8:20 pm Several journalists have been detained today on Independence Square, including Ilya Kuznetsov, a member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
8:25 pm An artist Olga Yakubovskaya published her painting “I am walking” depicting a white cat holding a white-red-white flag while surrounded by wolves.
“My dream is to present my painting as a gift to our incredible Nina Bahinskaya”, the artist wrote on her Facebook page. “For me, this lady is a symbol of resistance and endurance of Belarus, an incredible example of courage and faith in our victory of good over evil. With all my heart I thank this magnificent lady for everything she is doing for Belarus!”
8:30 pm Aleksey Trypuz, a Minsk resident who was collecting signatures to call of Belarusian deputies was detained and accused of “organisation of an unauthorised assembly”.
8:35 pm The diplomatic missions of the USA, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the European Union have published a joint statement in which they called on the Belarusian authorities to stop the violence and persecution for political reasons.
8:40 pm Over twenty people have now gathered at the Pushkinskaya metro station in Minsk, where Aleksandr Taraikovsky was shot dead by riot police on 10th August. Some people hold white-red-white flags; two policemen are walking nearby.
You can see a 50 meter path of fresh flowers that people had brought here during the day.
8:55 pm A young lady, holding a white balloon, was detained by police in a shop in Gomel.
8:45 pm A biker holding a white-red-white flag was stopped by the road police in the centre of Minsk. Two men wearing civilian clothes and baklavas went out of a civil minibus parked nearby and asked journalists “not to record”. The biker was ordered to give in the flag and to follow the road police van.
9:30 pm Most of the protesters have gone home and it may seem that today’s story is over. However, “civilians” recording videos of the protests do that for a reason, and not a benign one.
For instance, today a student at the Belarusian-Russian University Aleksandra Shkarubo was detained in Mogilev and charged with participation in an unauthorised protest. The police said that she had been recorded on a video holding a white-red-white flag during the rally a day before.