On Freedom Day, the army will be officially used against the people; Belarus is one of the largest arms exporters in the world; 8 years in prison for trolling security officers in telegram channels
15 March 2021 | Voice of Belarus
On the Freedom Day, the army will be officially used against the people
Every year, on 25 March, Belarusians celebrate Freedom Day. A copy of the document was published today, in which the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus asks the Ministry of Defense to involve 3,725 military personnel in forceful action against civilians. Most of the soldiers are required in Minsk – 1,360 at normal times and 2,680 in case of emergency. In addition to Minsk, the military will be involved in all major cities and even villages.
The BYPOL, an initiative of former law enforcement officers, declared the document authentic. According to their information, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Defense have been preparing for the last month and a half to suppress street actions timed to Freedom Day. On 25 March, armed forces in full combat gear will be used to protect administrative buildings, while police will be used to forcefully disperse peaceful protesters. Barbed wire is already stretched behind the government house in Minsk.
The press secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Volha Chamadanava commented on the information in the leaked document: “We have no information on this document. There is nothing I can tell you about.”
Representatives of opposition parties and associations have applied to the Minsk City Executive Committee for the celebration of Freedom Day. However, the authorities tacitly prohibited local authorities from issuing permits for events, so all actions will be considered unauthorized. On 11 March, Lukashenko, while appointing new security officers, demanded that they be ready to “wage war within the country”.
Belarus is among the largest arms exporters in the world
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has published a report on the world’s biggest arms exporters for the period 2016–2020. Belarus took 19th place in this list (despite the fact that over the past 5 years, the export of arms from Belarus has decreased by 34%). Belarus exported most of all weapons to Vietnam, Serbia and Sudan. Belarus accounted for 0.3% of world arms exports.
8 years for a “terrorist” cartoonist, 15 days for an artist, arrest for a writer
A 55-year-old artist and cartoonist, Ivan Viarbitski, has been sentenced in Smarhon. The man was accused of four criminal articles, including terrorism, for “trolling” the security forces in telegram channels. According to the prosecution, “in order to destabilize public order, the citizen posted text messages in one of the groups on the Telegram channel, which contained calls for damaging the KGB building with Molotov cocktails and setting fire to the Ashmyany district prosecutor’s office.” Ivan Viarbitski responded by saying that one has to understand the boundary between reality and virtual life. According to him, the discussion on the telegram channels was absolutely comic and had nothing to do with real life. The man was sentenced to 8 years and one month in a high security colony. In his final statement, Viarbitski read out an extract from Solzhenitsyn’s book “The Gulag Archipelago”.
An investigative journalist Dzianis Ivashin, who had been arrested on 12 March in Hrodna, remanded in custody for two months and a criminal case was opened. Searches were conducted in his house, the house of his mother, and on 15 March the security forces came with a search to the house of the journalist’s 95-year-old sick grandmother. Recently, he has written extensively about former members of the Ukrainian “Berkut”, who work for the Belarusian police.
On Saturday, 13 March, a famous artist Yelizaveta Gancharova and her father Aliaksandr Gancharou were detained in Minsk. Today the court sentenced them to 15 days of arrest for taking part in the vigil. Yelizaveta described in court how she was detained: she stopped to take a picture of the people standing outside the building because she thought it was beautiful, but did not have time because detentions began. Frightened, she started running away, but fell, so the unknown men dragged her along the pavement. The girl said that during her detention they used suffocation techniques, closed her eyes, and threw her to the ground several times.