Details of the raid in Minsk courtyards; Kalesnikava will stay in custody; the Orthodox Church has received a warning from the authorities; Press Club Belarus is under attack because of the project objectionable to the authorities
6 January 2021 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Details of the raid in Minsk courtyards
Late in the evening of 5 January, disgusting cases of people being arrested by unknowns took place in Minsk courtyards.
In the Novaya Baravaya residential area, a man in sportswear kicked a local resident in the stomach and then pulled out an object that looked like a gun. According to the information of Radio Svaboda, they kicked Viktar Maroz in the stomach, after the police station the man was taken to the hospital.
Arrests took place in another district of Minsk – Uruchcha.
“There are four houses, and in the evenings we gather together to talk to the neighbours. That evening we also gathered, but I did not count how many of us there were, maybe 15–20. It’s just a coincidence that everyone came out. We were relaxing after the New Year, drinking tea, laughing. We didn’t have flags, symbols – nothing. But we talked, of course, about politics. One of the neighbours bought us a pizza, he was arrested later. And then we hear stomping and 15 men rushing at us!”, says the resident Nadzeya. “At first it was not clear who it was. They came running and immediately began to shout: ‘Face to the wall!’ People began to stand along the house and at the entrance. No one put up any resistance, we were all confused.”
Several people were arrested and taken to the police station. And then two of the detainees ended up in the hospital.
One of them is a 38-year-old business analyst of one of the Minsk IT companies Andrei Kinash. Last night, the man went out into the courtyard, and only phoned his family today at six in the morning from the 5th Minsk City Clinical Hospital. According to relatives, Andrei is feeling dizzy, his head hurts, and he has tinnitus. In the ambulance, he was given a preliminary diagnosis – traumatic brain injury of moderate degree, but it will be defined more accurately later.
Among those who were arrested yesterday in Uruchcha was Valery Bodnar, the head of the Association of Advertising Organizations. “The father gave a testimony that he was returning from his daily walk through the courtyard – he has health problems, the doctors have recommended walking,” said his relatives.
On 6 January, police confirmed that 25 people had been arrested for “participating in unauthorized events”. According to the Minsk City Police Department, “some of them resisted police officers,” and a police officer kicked a Minsk resident in the stomach to “increase the distance”.
The trials of the detainees began in the courts. They are on trail for participating in unauthorized public events. So far, the results are as follows: either 10 days of arrest, or a fine.
Maria Kalesnikava’s term of imprisonment is extended
The investigators have extended Maria Kalesnikava’s detention in custody for another two months. She will remain in the pre-trial detention center in Zhodzina until 8 March. Maria Kalesnikava was arrested on 8 September in Minsk, in fact, she was kidnapped on the street, and attempted to be thrown out of the country. She tore her passport apart and refused to leave Belarus. She was placed in Minsk pre-trial detention center No. 1 as a suspect in a criminal case. Maria Kalesnikava is charged with actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security, committed through the use of the media and the Internet. The defense insists: Kalesnikava’s actions are aimed not at inflicting, but at preventing harm to national security.
Maria Kalesnikava is a member of the Coordination Council, coordinator of Viktar Babaryka’s election campaign, who became his representative in the joint headquarters of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Today she is one of the main figures of the Belarusian opposition, pursuing the idea of equality and justice.
Press Club was destroyed because of the “project of public television”
The well-known media manager and founder of the Press Club, Yuliya Slutskaya, was arrested on 22 December. On the same day, the program director of the project Alla Sharko, the financial director Siarhei Alsheuski, the head of the Press Club Academy Siarhei Yakupau, cameraman Piotar Slutski, and the former journalist of the Belarusian television Kseniya Lutskina were also arrested.
Since then, Yuliya has been in prison, and only now was she able to give an interview through her lawyer, in which she spoke about the imaginary and true reasons why the authorities are trying to destroy the Press Club.
According to Yuliya Slutskaya, she first learned from the investigator that the tax evasion case concerns a “public television project” that former state TV journalists allegedly wanted to create.
“The Academy of the Press Club really held a hackathon of media projects. We received over 30 applications. A jury of media experts and investors selected seven projects that were included in the incubator. The projects were aimed at different age and target groups and had nothing to do with politics. One of the winning projects was a video project, but it has nothing to do with television.”
According to the lawyer, Yuliya Slutskaya is confident that her professional activity led to the detention and the actual destruction of the Press Club as an institution that was developing independent journalism.
On 6 January, the relatives of the arrested employees of the Press Club transferred compensation to the account of the Central Office of the Investigative Committee – 110,000 Belarusian rubles, or almost 35,000 euros. According to the investigators, the Press Club did not pay this sum of taxes to the state budget.
It has been revealed how many police officers resigned during the protests
The BYPOL initiative published a document that was allegedly obtained from the organisations within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It reports on the number of employees, as well as other statistics of the agency.
The document could not be verified. But if one were to trust it, the total staff of the internal affairs bodies in Belarus is a little over 46,000 people.
The document also contains information on the reduction of personnel. In particular, it claims that in the first nine months of the last year, almost 2,100 employees left the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with more than a 1,000 of them did so between July and September.
Authorities issue warning to the Orthodox Church in Belarus
The Belarusian Orthodox Church received a warning. It happened on 27 November, but it became known only now. What caused the warning is unclear. The document says that the church is obliged to adhere to Article 16 of the Constitution (that the activities of the church cannot be directed against the sovereignty of Belarus) and Article 8 of the law “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” (that political events are prohibited in places of worship). If the Belarusian Orthodox Church receives one more warning within a year, the court may revoke its legal status and ban its activities in Belarus.
For more information on the events of 6 January 2021, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: