Live Feed | 15 Oct

15 October 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
Alexandr Kurban
Aleksandr Kurban.
Source: “Belaruskali” Strike Committee Telegram channel

8:00 am The famous basketball player Yelena Leuchanka was not released after 15 days of detention. Her arrest time was extended for another 72 hours. As her parents were told, this was done following another incident.

Yelena Leuchanka's parents
Yelena Leuchanka’s parents at the detention center.
Source: TUT.BY

Leuchanka was detained on 30 September and arrested for participating in an unauthorized event.

8:53 am Ukraine rejects Minsk’s accusations of acting in an unfriendly manner, and will always welcome people who share the same values and want to make a life for themselves in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. 

“Ukraine rejects Minsk’s accusations of acting in an unfriendly manner. Our country has traditionally been open and friendly to Belarusian citizens. Even before the crisis in Belarus, movement between our countries was as free as possible, and interpersonal and business contacts were growing stronger,” the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yekaterina Zelenko said on Thursday.

9:00 am On 14 October, the Ministry of Justice issued a warning for the Belarusian Green Party.

Among their violations is the joint party resolution on the need of the new elections and an end to violence.

This is said in an order issued by the Deputy Minister of Justice Nikolai Starovoitov; the party received a copy of this order, BelaPAN reports.

9:42 am “Belaruskali” strike committee reports that today, after the end of the night shift, one of the workers refused to rise to the surface until his demands are met. The man works as a senior explosives worker at the 4th mining department. According to our information, an ambulance has come to the site, and the mine’s management has gone down the mine.

Belaruskali miners
“Belaruskali” miners.
Source: TUT.BY

According to the strike committee’s information, the man remaining in the mine is the senior explosives worker Aleksandr Kurban. The man reportedly passed on a note that he would remain underground until his demands were met.

10:49 am Today, Dmitry Kokhno, a showman and ex-TV presenter was tried in Minsk for a second time in two months. This time, Dmitry was charged with failure to obey a lawful order. His case was led by the judge Yekaterina Murashko. The case report says that on the evening of 11 September, Dmitry was stopped by police officer Aleksandrovich from the Central District Police Department. The officer “lawfully demanded” Dmitry to leave his car and go to the police station for investigation on “suspicion of committing an administrative offense”. According to the report, Dmitry “categorically refused to do so”.

This charge seems rather peculiar, taking into account that on 11 September Dmitry was in detention in the Akrescin detention center. To recap, ex-TV presenters Denis Dudinsky and Dmitry Kokhno were detained in Minsk on 2 September. The next day they were charged with participating in an unauthorized mass event and sentenced to 10 days of administrative arrest. On Saturday, 12 September, they were supposed to be released, but it did not happen: the men remained under arrest until noon on 14 September.

Still, Dmitry said that the case report was correct, and the judge sentenced him to a fine of BYN 675 (approximately USD 262).

Dmitry seems happy with this ruling. “This is the best outcome in this situation,” he said as he was leaving the courtroom. Three days ago Dmitry’s second child, a girl, was born.

12:00 pm The court has started a hearing of the new case of the basketball player Yelena Leuchanka, who has not been released earlier today from the pre-trial detention center after 15 days of detention. Yelena is again accused of participating in an unauthorized mass event.

12:03 pm Nikolay Strekha, the Deputy Dean of the Natural Sciences Department at the Maksim Tank Belarusian State Pedagogical University, was dismissed on 19 October for expressing his own position as a citizen. Natalya Naumenko, the Department Dean, told Belsat correspondents that the dismissal of Nikolai was allegedly entirely his own initiative.

12:05 pm Over 100 people have gathered near the pre-trial detention center at Akrestsina; they are queuing to give packages to the arrested. Among them are friends and relatives of the journalist Elena Dovnar, who has been under arrest for 19 days. People who are standing near the detention center say that some of them had arrived before 6 in the morning and started forming a queue.

Source: The Belarusian Association of Journalists via Nasha Niva

12:10 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya expressed her words of support for Belarusian students today and appealed to the teachers to protect their students.

For many of you, this presidential election was the first in your life – and I am glad that the voices of young people have finally been heard. No one should dictate to you how to behave, what to dream about and what to strive for – this is your country, you are building it right now for yourself and your future. And your protest shows that you are a real force to be reckoned with by people of all generations and positions,” she said.

12:20 pm At 12:00 the Ministry of Justice began to consider the matter on terminating the license of two Belarusian lawyers. One of them, Alexander Pylchenko, is currently acting as a defense attorney for Viktar Babaryka and Maria Kalesnikava.

12:50 pm Another miner of Belaruskali refused to return from the mine this morning. Aleksander Kurban has become the third miner to protest in this way. He was forcibly brought to the surface and sent to a neuropsychiatric clinic for examination.

1:03 pm During the trial, Yelena Leuchanka spoke about the conditions of her detention: “There is no hot water, no shower, no mattresses or any bed linen, my health has deteriorated and there are lice.”

1:05 pm Students of the Minsk State Linguistic University have organized another protest.

1:06 pm People are standing in a solidarity chain on the Logoysky Highway. 

1:25 pm Yelena Leuchanka’s case is being heard online, the format in which most of the court hearings have been conducted in Belarus for several months, allegedly, due to coronavirus. The detainees are not taken to court rooms from the detention center at Akrestsina Street, the judge communicates with them via video link. Yelena Leuchanka’s parents were not allowed to look at their daughter on the screen. At the court clerk’s instructions, the police blocked the way to the screen. It is not clear who gave such powers to the court clerk, the procedure code certainly does not provide for such authority given to a court clerk.

Source: Radio Svaboda

1:40 pm The Belarusian Association of Journalists reports that Svyatlana Harda, the chief editor of the “Media-Poseye” network news outlet, has been threatened by police with arrest and is “being taken away in handcuffs”. 

1:41 pm It has been reported that some of the detainees were taken away from the detention center at Akrestsina Street to Zhodzina detention center. The detainees at the detention center at Akrestsina Street are allowed parcels from their relatives and friends only once a week on Thursdays, and detainees at Zhodzina detention center receive parcels each Wednesday, which means that those transported to Zhodzina detention center today will not have their parcels delivered to them for another week. 

1:52 pm Roman Abramchuk, a poet, musician and translator, has been sentenced to ten days of detention. He has serious problems with his eyesight, he is nearly blind. It is not clear how a person with such poor eyesight may survive the prison sentence without his glasses. 

1:59 pm Homel artist Marysia Tulzhankova has been sentenced to 15 days of detention, as reported by the journalist Mykola Benka on his Facebook. 

2:11 pm The defense attorney Yulia Levanchuk lost her license. She defended in court the flower shop owner Maxim Khoroshyn, who had been brutally beaten by the security forces. The  grounds for suspension of her license was Yulia’s personal correspondence, no other details are available. The lawyer intends to appeal against the suspension. 

2:35 pm Court verdict in Yelena Leuchanka’s case is a fine of 810 roubles. She will be freed in several minutes. 

2:38 pm Students of the Art Academy have joined a traditional protest organized near the university.

Source: TUT.BY

2:50 pm The journalist Alena Shabunya, who collaborates with Belsat, has been fined 135 roubles. 

2:53 pm US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his support for the Belarusian people and appealed to the Belarusian authorities to free political strategist and USA citizen Vytaly Shklyarov, who has been in custody at the KGB detention center for several months. 

2:55 pm Over 400 criminal cases have been initiated in Belarus since the election day on the grounds of “violation of the public order”, as informed by the Prosecutor’s General Office. 

2:56 pm A long queue of customers can be seen again at the “Pervy Tsvetnoi” flower shop, whose owner Maxim Khoroshyn was severely beaten at the police station.

3:00 pm People with disabilities are gathering for a march at the Red Church near Nezavisimosti Square in Minsk.

3:17 pm Aliaksandr Pylchenko has been stripped of his license to practice law. He is Viktar Babaryka’s and Maria Kalesnikava’s lawyer.

3:33 pm @euroradio reports that Oleg Grablevsky was detained at the March of People with Disabilities. Mr. Grablevsky is a lawyer working for an organization advocating for the disabled.

3:54 pm On Thursday, Canada stated that it had imposed sanctions on 31 more officials in Belarus due to human rights violations by Aliaksandr Lukashenka and his government, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.

4:03 pm The Ministry of Justice has issued a comment on their decision concerning lawyers Pylchenko and Levanchuk: “In her correspondence with a criminal investigator, Brest Regional Bar Association attorney Yulia Levanchuk made threats against him and against his family members.”

4:19 pm A Lufthansa Technik representative has denied the messages that the workers refused to service the Belarusian airplane which is presumably used by Alexander Lukashenko.

4:24 pm The dance group “Khoroshki” is going to perform today and tomorrow onstage at the Kupala Theater. Almost the entire theater troupe has resigned soon after the elections, following their director Pavel Latushka’s forced resignation. Now, the orchestra and several of the “Khoroshki” dancers are also refusing to perform. Latushka dubbed the planned performance “dancing on graves.”

4:33 pm Elena Levchenko has left the Okrestina temporary detention center.

4:34 pm Participants of the March of People with Disabilities walked down Nezavisimosti Avenue, chanting “Shame on you!” when passing by the KGB headquarters. Upon reaching the GUM department store, they finished the march and went home.

People with disabilities marching in Minsk on 15 Oct (Photo: TUT.BY)
Source: TUT.BY

4:35 pm Viktar Babaryka’s Telegram channel has clarified that political prisoner Yuri Voskresensky was not a member of the Babaryka’s campaign team.

Voskresensky never belonged to the circle of people who were making decisions, and has not received any instructions or had private conversations with Mr. Babaryka himself.

Voskresensky was a member of the group who were collecting signatures for the presidential campaign, but he is in no way Babaryka’s representative. In a conversation with his lawyer, Mr. Babaryka stressed that those who were at the meeting with Lukashenka in the KGB detention center did not instruct anyone to speak on their behalf or initiate any dialogue with the authorities.

5:11 pm Elena Levchenko has been taken to her home. Currently, she is talking to the press. She describes conditions at the Okrestina detention center and today’s trip to the Leninsky district police office for a “conversation.” That conversation was the reason why people who were waiting for Ms. Levchenko’s release on Okrestina did not see her.

6:21 pm France, Germany and Poland have called for new elections in Belarus, according to a joint statement from all three countries’ Foreign Ministries: “Our three countries strongly condemn the violence and arbitrary arrests carried out by Belarusian authorities following the presidential elections, the results of which we do not accept. We are calling for new, free, and fair elections, in line with international standards and under observation by the OSCE/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights), without outside interference.” 

Representatives of Berlin, Paris, and Warsaw support OSCE efforts to initiate dialogue between Belarusian authorities and citizens, and have called for the release of political prisoners and cooperation within the framework of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.

All three countries have called on the European Commission to design a plan for economic support for Belarus and its citizens: “We welcome the German civil society program “Development of Cooperation with Civil Society in countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia,” which is open to Polish and French civil society representatives.” The program involves providing about 1 million euros in support for civil society.

6:28 pm A group of Belarusian medical professionals has recorded a video, in which they express their disagreement with statements by government officials that peacefully protesting citizens were the reason behind the growing rate of coronavirus infections in Belarus. The text of their statement has been posted online, and colleagues are being asked to sign it. 

Those who appear in the video believe that government officials are distorting both the true cause of increases in COVID-19 infections, as well as the figures themselves. 

The physicians are outraged by the “authorities’ hypocrisy”, which blames protesters for increasing infection rates, and “continues to voluntarily and forcibly bring people together across the country for their ideological activities”. The doctors note that people are being transported in police buses, “the most dangerous form of transport from an epidemiological point of view”, and to concerts where they “stand shoulder to shoulder,” while soccer games also continue to take place. 

Lies and manipulations have become an integral feature of the outgoing authorities, just as intimidation and aggressive pressure tactics have,” they stated. 

The doctors note that they are threatened with fines, arrest and criminal charges, dismissal, or termination, as well as with having their children removed from their family. However, in the video message, they reiterate that after 26 years, they have “acquired immunity to threats.” 

The doctors urged everyone who exercises his or her civic rights to observe social distancing, use hand sanitizer, and other methods to protect themselves. “We staunchly believe that authorities shooting at their own people present a greater danger than coronavirus,” they stressed. 

7:48 pm Election fraud at Minsk Automotive Factory: “I only have three guys who are for Lukashenko. The rest are all for Tsikhanouskaya”.

An audio recording has been published on voter fraud at Minsk Automotive Factory (MAZ). The clip does not mince words, as Electoral Commission members refuse to sign a flagrantly falsified election results document: “I just can’t, go ahead and hang me at least… How are we going to look people in the eye?”

During the conversation, it becomes clear that earlier elections were falsified by about 20%. “I’ll even do 20%, like we always do,” and then “This lie is just crazy!” Everyone present were aware of the situation with manipulating voting results, it was a widespread phenomenon, and that authorities wanted to make commissions report extremely falsified figures.

The commission chair Uladzimir Usachev cajoles and intimidates the commission members. He states that Deputy Aliaksandr Grankovskiy is also aware of the voter fraud, and also makes it clear that the figures came from above, and that the commission is pressuring the executive committee. “Guys, I’m ashamed in front of you, I’m ashamed that we got into this, because of our feckless leadership,” Usachev summarizes.

7:55 pm So far, 1,200 Belarusian IT workers have fled to Ukraine since the protests began, according to the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation. 

If 1,200 IT workers come, then that means Ukraine is going to receive about $120 million dollars a year in additional foreign exchange earnings,” stated Ilya Neskhadovskiy, the Director of the Institute for Socioeconomic Transformation. “An IT worker makes about $2,000-7,000 dollars a month, some of which they will spend in Ukraine,” he added. 

8:08 pm Belarusian companies have taken an all-time record financial hit- as of 1 September 2020, as major Belarusian companies’ debt reached an unprecedented 156.6 billion Belarusian rubles. The debt now significantly exceeds the expected GDP (146.9 billion Belarusian rubles) for 2020.

8:14 pm Live concerts are underway in many neighborhoods around Minsk. Vostok district is holding a Medieval reenactment. 

8:38 pm The director of a local children’s hospice, Volha Velichko, was arrested in Hrodna today. Dzmitry Bondarchuk, an activist, said: “She ran an event in the hospice courtyard. They only took her, she is at the Oktyabrsky police station now, and her attorney is on the way”. 

9:43 pm A history PhD candidate Andrei Uladzimiravich Unuchek held a lecture on the Belarusian national idea at Minsk’s Magistr residential complex. 

9:57 pm An event was held on Minsk’s “Square of Change” in honor of Stepan Latypov, who was arrested one month ago.