Vitali Silicki Prize, Budzma, Tsmoki - Civil Society Digest

Tsmoki (picture: svaboda.org)

Gallery Ў hosts a presentation of a book on Ales Bialiatski in Minsk. The Center for Legal Transformation trains the first group under its not-for-profit Law School. A Minsk court orders compensation to former political prisoner Dmitry Bondarenko.

BISS shares plans for 2013. The public announcement of the foundation of the Vital Silicki Prize For Contributions to the Promotion of Political Thought in Belarus became the focal point of the gala evening that Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies traditionally holds on 14 January to celebrate Old New Year’s Eve.

The Vital Silicki Commemoration Committee established the Vital Silicki Prize to commemorate the first BISS director. Alexei Pikulik, BISS Academic Director, presented the new staff members of BISS, drew up the results of BISS' activities in 2012 and spoke about the projects planned for 2013.

Efficient press services. Human rights Centre Viasna, UCP and the Tell the Truth campaign have the most efficient press services, in journalists' opinion. Among CSOs, journalists also noted the Green Alliance and human rights institution Platform.

“Bialiatski’s Case” presented in Minsk. On 18 January, the Minsk-based Gallery Ў hosted the presentation of a book titled Bialiatski’s Case, a documentary novel by journalist Valer Kalinouski. The event was attended by Ales Bialiatski’s relatives and colleagues, as well as prominent human rights defenders, political and cultural figures.

Partizaning  in Gomel and Brest. On 17 January, an open lecture titled Partizaning: Tactics of street art for improvements the city, was held in Gomel. The event was organised by the youth club Civilization, a project of the Gomel Democratic Forum. The invited guests were the Belarusian street-art community SIGNAL and a famous Russian street artist and a leader of the Partizaning Igor Ponosov. The meeting was attended by over 70 young Gomel residents. The same lecture took place in Brest, organised by youth NGO Dzedzich.

Not-for-profit law School. On 12 January, the Legal Transformation Center graduated the first group of the Not-for-profit Law School, organised under the Flying University. 3 people compete for every place; the course was attended by practitioners, civil society activists, and students of humanities.

"Flight"- animation about the death penalty in Belarus (video). The animation film, created by volunteers of the Human Rights Defenders against Death Penalty campaign, dwells on the topic of the cruelty and inhumanity of the death penalty in Belarus.

New cultural CSO. On 12 January, in Minsk, an organisational meeting of the founders of the Society of Amateurs of Belarusian History Vaclav Lastovsky was held. The founders are professional historians, writers, journalists, artists. The new organisation will apply documents for registration.

December 2012 disability rights monitoring. In December 2012, the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities received 38 citizen appeals. The largest number of complaints concerned issues of adequate standards of living, habilitation and rehabilitation. The Office conducts such monitoring on the monthly basis.

Expert discussion on capacity building. On 10 January 10 2013, the Capacity Building Market place conducted an expert discussion titled Capacity development of Belarusian CSOs in 2012.  The event was attended by about 30 CSO experts and consultants. The discussion summed up the major trends in the capacity development field and concluded that Belarusian CSOs should get out of their "comfort zone" in order to develop.

IT in Belarusian. The students of Belarus State Technological University have launched the Centre of Assistance to Students which organises courses on trend IT technologies. The lessons are conducted mainly by students, and two of them teach in Belarusian.

International conference in Warsaw. Lazarski University in cooperation with the Belarusian office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, NED and the Visegrad Fund announced a call for applications for participation in the 5th International conference, titled 'Revolt in the name of liberty: the forgotten Belarusian gene?'. The conference is aimed at searching for historical inspiration for civil society in Belarus today. It will take place on 8-10 March 2013, in Warsaw.

Czech authorities register Belarusian House in PragueThe Belarusian House is now able to establish official contacts and cooperate with Czech governmental agencies, the city authorities and local NGOs. The Belarusian House is expected to function as an alternative to the Belarusian embassy in Prague and to become a human rights and information centre for Belarusians in the Czech Republic.

INTERACTION BETWEEN STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY

Gomel authorities hinder registration of "Stop Drinking – Start Living". The Gomel civil initiative "Khopic Pic – Treba Zhyc" ("Stop Drinking – Start Living") cannot get egal status due to obstacles put up by the authorities. namely preventing the initiative from getting a legal address.

Tsmoki at state TV. National TV picked up the rhetoric of the promotion of Dragon (Tsmok) as a symbol of Belarus. The video shows the initiators of the very idea - the Budzma! campaign which at the beginning of 2012 launched a pilot project ttled Searching for Tsmok, which aims to provoke wide public discussion of ‘cool’ Belarusian cultural heritage and the country’s brand.

Budzma and Mogilev City Executive Committee have published a joint call for citizens’ ideas on how to improve cultural life in Mogilev. Partnership between Budzma! and the city authorities will allow citizens to present and discuss their ideas in a creative lightning talk format, honouring the election of Mogilev as the 2013 cultural capital city of NIS and Belarus.

Fine for online photo. On 5 January, three local human rights defenders Victor Sazonau, Raman Yurguel, and Uladzimir Hilmanovich were fined 15 base amounts each (about €140). The activists staged their solidarity action on the international day of human rights: they took a photo in the street with Ales Bialiatski’s portrait and later published the photo on the website of the HRC Viasna. On 18 December, the local police made up a protocol on an unsanctioned picket based upon the media fact only.

Warnings and detentions in 2012. BAJ summed up the information about detentions and warnings, issued by law enforcement agencies and special services to members of the organisations: at least 12 journalists received warnings from the prosecutor’s office for contributing to foreign mass media without accreditation; at least 4 journalists had prophylactic talks with the KGB; and around 60 cases of detention occurred.

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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