EU Sanctions Divide Society - Belarus Civil Society Digest

EU Sanctions divide Belarusian civil society, Belarusian Association of Journalists calls to drop proceedings related to photo albums. A crowd sourcing web site Talaka launched. After dismissal on case on the journal ARCHE, criminal case against Valery Bulhakau will not be initiated.

EU sanctions divided civil society. The European Union's policy of sanctions against the Belarusian government does not bring freedom to the political prisoners, Aliaksandr Milinkevich, chairman of the Movement for Freedom, said during a conference that was held in the European Parliament on 9 April to assess the efficiency of the EU's program called the European Dialogue on Modernization with Belarus.

This statement caused the stormy reaction of other part of opposition - Iryna Khalip believes that "by the efforts of Milinkevich… Lukashenka may soon again become a persona grata in Europe, and then everyone will forget about the political prisoners with a great relief".

BAJ calls on the KGB to withdraw their legal claim against BPP-2011. On 10 April, the Board of BAJ adopted the text of an appeal to the head of the Hrodna region KGB, who initiated the court hearing on recognising the Belarus Press Photo 2011 albums extremist. Journalists and authors express their protest against the accusations of extremism that were put forward to the photo album and ask the KGB to withdraw the case from court.

On 9 April, PEN-center issued a public statement in support of independent photographers. On 10 April, the newspaper the newspaper Nasha Niva removed all photographs from its front page to express protest against the attempts of the KGB to declare extremist the albums BPP-2011.

Criminal case against Valery Bulhakau will not be initiated. On 9 April, ex-editor of the magazine ARCHE received an official response to his request to the Office of Financial Investigations Department on Minsk and Minsk region. The letter notes that on the basis of the results of the inspection the criminal proceedings against Bulhakau will not be initiated.

Young Democrats refused registration finally. On 10 April, the Supreme Court of Belarus decided to turn down the appeal of the Young Christian Democrats against the registration denial, issued to the organisation by the Ministry of Justice. The organization states that they will continue their work irrespective of the absence of the legal status.

Society

Screening of a film Torture in Belarus. Apocalypse. On 15 April, in Vilnius, Lithuanian film festival Inconvenient films together with Belarusian Human Rights House invite to the première viewing of the film about torture and ill-treatment of people by the officers of security forces in Belarus. The screening is followed by discussion with the director and the heroes of the film.

Fair of project in Vitebsk. On 9 April, in Vitebsk, the cultural campaign “Budzma” conducted Fair of Projects, which took place earlier in Gomel and Mogilev. Vitebsk proactive people presented 11 projects of cultural topic: the contest of modern Belarusian writers, publishing popular historical postcards, information guide over Vitebsk, etc. It is planned that on the results of the fairs in different cities a bank of ideas will be established where anyone can join an existing project or to offer own idea.

Logo for the European Intercultural Festival 2013. The Brussels-based Office for Democratic Belarus invites to take part in the competition on designing a logo of the European Intercultural Festival 2013. The logo should reflect the unity of Europe, which is based on shared values, membership of Belarus and other Eastern Partnership countries to the "European House". The festival events are to be held in Minsk and some regional centres on 20-26 May.

Social Campaigns

Social responsibility in business and at dance party. Public association Rotary Club Minsk held the first charity dance party. Among the guests there were members of the Rotary Club: politicians, diplomats, artists, scientists, business people, representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Belarusian Children's Hospice. All proceeds went to the purchase of medical equipment for children with serious illness - myopathy.

Talaka launched. Belarusian activists have launched a crowd sourcing web site which is considered to be a link between ideas/projects and people who'd like to support them. Already five ideas are posted there: a tour over Minsk for blind people, restoration of the Roman Catholic chapel, etc. Specially designed software allows monitoring the progress in support of the projects.

Grodno Children's Hospice invites to a charity show. On 5 April, in Grodno, French volunteers will present the adventure show In Search of the Most Important for children. The organisers are Grodno Children's Hospice, International Association Theatro, Charitable Internet movement I want to help.

Education Opportunities

School on international relations. School Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership in cooperation with Estonian School of Diplomacy offers a limited amount of scholarships for participating in the training course “International Relations and European Integration”. The scholarships are financed by the Estonian and Finnish Ministries of Foreign Affairs, US State Department (Belarus) and SIDA. For the 2012/2013 scholarships are offered for the citizens of Belarus too.

BIPART public lecture. On 7 April, a public lecture Chaos, Order, and Social Development is to take place at the Minsk business centre Victoria. The lecturer is Georgy Satarov, a known Russian expert in the field of public administration, political science, sociology, advisor to the President of the Russian Federation in 1994-1997. The lecture is held under BIPART, a research project of the School of Young Managers of Public Administration (SYMPA).

Seminar on student self-governance. On 12-14 April, a seminar Student Self-Governance: Belarus - the EU is to take place in Vitebsk. At the event, participants will learn about the experience of student self-governance at Belarusian universities as well as the system of higher education in Lithuania and Norway. The Organiser – Brotherhood of Organizers of Student Self-governance (BOSS) – invites for participation members of the trade unions, student councils, and active students.

Association of European Business launched a series of workshops on investment strategy in Belarus. The first workshop, which was held on 27 March, demonstrated a high level of interest of the European businessmen. The next workshops are to be held on 10 and 27 April. Registration for the workshops for companies with a European capital or representing the interests of European business is for free.

Belarus Digest prepared this overview on the basis of materials provided by Pact. This digest attempts to give a richer picture of the recent political and civil society events in Belarus. It often goes beyond the hot stories already available in English-language media.

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