The protests don’t subside; The General Prosecutor’s Office is going to restrict the activities of volunteers; The Unified Crime Registration Book has published the first indictments under international jurisdiction; Volha Khizhynkova has been released and she is not going to leave Belarus
20 December 2020 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Sunday protests continue across the country
As part of weekly protests in Minsk and other cities all around Belarus, “People’s Tribunal Marches” took place. From early morning until late evening residents of Minsk districts and other cities united in columns, moving along the streets around their neighbourhoods. Protesters tried to move around small streets at different times of the day to avoid mass detentions and to disperse police forces. Coordination of places and times was arranged in closed Telegram chat groups.
The Viasna human rights center recorded more than 140 detainees during protests in Minsk, Barysau, Vitsebsk, Hrodna, Navapolatsk, Salihorsk, Smilavichy, Radashkovichy. Minsk police reported one hundred detainees in Minsk. Security officers grabbed people who were just standing on the street, pulled them out of the entrances of their houses. In Hrodna, two journalists Maryna Kharevich (BelaPAN news agency) and Alena Kavalchuk (the weekly newspaper Nasha Slova) were detained. Before the arrest, Kharevich said that “people in civilian clothes” were breaking into the room where they were working.
Volha Khizhynkova has been released She was under arrest for 42 days
On 20 December, Miss Belarus 2008 Volha Khizhynkova was released after 42 days of arrest. She was detained on 8 November and was tried on three episodes of her participation in peaceful actions against violence. Before her arrest was about to end, Volha had been moved from Minsk city prison to the prison in Zhodzina. Her relatives and even her cat came to meet her. After her release, Volha shared the details about the terrible conditions of detention, poor sanitation, and absence of heating. Women had to sleep on the floor with their clothes on. But despite all the challenges, Volha is not going to leave the country, she wants to live and work in Belarus.
UCR published the first list of verified crimes
Today, The Unified Crime Registry (UCR) published the first list of 28 evidence materials of election fraud by the members of election commissions, torture and violence by the security forces, kidnapping, and unlawful court rulings. Independent investigators, lawyers and prosecutors joined in the whole process of collection of evidentiary documents and verification of the reliability of information. Criminal cases will be passed on to the Interpol through the International Universal Jurisdiction, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations.
The initiative to create the UCR belongs to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The UCR is aimed at collecting information on the facts of violations of the law by the representatives of the law enforcement agencies of Belarus in relation to people who participated in peaceful protests with the aim of subsequent initiation of criminal cases at the international level.
Belarus is developing a law to control and restrict the work of volunteers
The volunteer movement in Belarus began to actively develop with the beginning of the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic. The state did nothing to help the citizens of its country, and volunteers throughout the country sewed masks and other protective equipment and provided doctors with meals. After the start of peaceful protests, volunteers began to help the detainees, collect aid for the victims, and draw up public lists of those who were behind bars for participating in peaceful rallies. Now the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus and the Belarusian National Bar Association are developing a law on volunteering, which provides for the introduction of regulation of this activity. However, many experts are concerned that the new law, instead of creating a favorable regime for volunteers, may, on the contrary, limit the opportunities for free work of volunteer initiatives. Since many of the volunteers do not belong to any public organization, after the adoption of the innovations their activities will be illegal and may imply punishment by the police and the courts, and prosecution for political reasons.
For more information on the events of 20 December 2020, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: