One Political Prisoner Fewer - Civil Society and Politics Digest

Dzmitry Us released (photo telegraf.by)

On Sunday Belarusian authorities released yet another presidential candidate - Dzmitry Us. At least seven political prisoners remain in Belarusian prisons.

This number includes the two ex-presidential candidates Andrei Sannikov and Mikalai Statkevich, leader of the campaign “European Belarus” Dzmitry Bandarenka, Head of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” Ales Byalyatsky, youth leaders Zmitser Dashkevich and Eduard Lobov and entrepreneur Mikalay Autukhovich. In addition, human rights defenders consider the case of five anarchists to be politically motivated; three of them are also in prison. 

POLITICS

Trial of last defendant in mass riot case put off till 12 October. The trial of Sviataslau Baranovich, the last defendant in the “mass riot” criminal case, has been postponed until 12 October, after the judge ruled to call additional witnesses. The trial started on August 29. Baranovich is charged for participation in mass riots and may be sentenced to up to eight years in prison. 

Human rights defenders congratulate Ales Byalyatsky. On 25 September, the friends and colleagues of Ales Byalyatsky staged a street event in Minsk Nezalezhnastsi Square to congratulate the imprisoned leader of Viasna on his 49th birthday. Human rights defender Uladizmir Labkovich was detained shortly after the picket and released after three hours without a report being drawn. In addition, nearly four thousand greeting cards for Ales Byalyatsky are the result of the "Solidarity with Belarus. Postcard to prisoner Ales Byalyatsky" campaign. The campaign in aid of Byalyatsky’s birthday (25 September) was held by Polish NGOs under the "Group abroad".

Ales Byalyatsky, Chairperson of the Human Rights Center Viasna and vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was detained on 4 August 2011. On 12 August he was charged with “concealment of profits on an especially large scale” and is now in custody in remand prison #1 in Valadarski Street in Minsk. He faces up to 7 years of imprisonment with confiscation of assets.

Andrzej Poczobut not allowed to leave Belarus. Such limitation has been imposed on the journalist of "Gazeta Wyborcza" by the criminal-executive inspection. The journalist has written about this in his Livejournal blog. Poczobut was sentenced to probation allegedly for slander against Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Three arrested opposition activists are on hunger strike in Gomel. They are Andrus Tsianiuta, Kanstantsin Zhukouski and Zmitser Shauchenka. Shauchenka was arrested on 17 September for the dissemination of information about the upcoming "silent action". The court sentenced him to 15 days of detention. Tsianiuta was sentenced to 10 days of detention for the dissemination of information about the People's Assembly. Zhukouski was arrested just before the "silent action" on 21 September and sentenced to 15 days of detention despite the fact that his leg was broken during the arrest procedure.

Human rights activist Valyantsin Stefanovich returns to Belarus. On 30 September, he managed to get through the check-point at Minsk National Minsk without any problems. Stefanovich is accused of tax evasion, as is his colleague Ales Byalyatky.

One more member of the International Observation Mission banned from entering Belarus. On 30 September, a representative of the International Committee of the Observation Mission of International Control over the human rights situation in Belarus, the Ukrainian citizen Vladimir Senko was refused entry to Belarus. Vladimir Senko has already become the 12th representative of the Committee of the Observation Mission denied entry to Belarus because of his human rights activities.

CIVIL SOCIETY

The NGOs Assembly adopted two statements. The working group of the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs of Belarus has adopted two statements concerning the possible dialogue between the authorities and society, and the prospects for EU-Belarus relations within the European Partnership program.

Essay contest on the rights of disabled. The Office on the Rights of the Disabled announced an essay contest and scientific papers on the topic "Accessibility and Disability", "Convention on the Rights of the Disabled". The competition aims to increase knowledge about the perspective of people with disabilities in Belarus; to promote the idea of ​​equal participation; to develop expertise in human rights with a disability. Deadline for papers is 3 December, 2011.

BPPF announces the 9th call for proposals for small grants. Within the framework of its program on the systematic support for analysis in social, political and economic studies, Belarus Public Policy Fund (BPPF), in cooperation with Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), announced a call for proposals for small grants. Public policy-oriented research in Belarus is supported with the aim of invigorating and intensifying the debate on key public policy issues that are not satisfactorily researched by analysts and lack public discussion.

Week of Informal education. On 24 September - 2 October, The 6th Week of Informal Education was held in Belarus. This year the main topic of the Week was "Informal education and regional development". Seminars, trainings, round tables, and master classes were held in Minsk as well in the regions.

New non-profit Association. The Association of Professional Marketing has been registered in Belarus. The founders are seven Belarusian commercial companies, including: TUTby Media, Evrotorg, Centre of System Business Technologies Satio, Belbiz, etc. The aim of the association is to promote the professional community and education in the field of marketing in Belarus.

Increased inflow of foreign donations. Receipt of foreign donations by Belarus in the first half of 2011 increased to $47.6 million. This number is registered in the Department of Humanitarian Affairs. This is $8.1 million more than in the first half of 2010. Among leaders in obtaining foreign donations are NGOs - who received $17.1 million.

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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