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Crackdown on independent media and daily protests – Belarus civil society digest

For almost 50 days Belarusians continue daily protests against the illegitimacy of the 6th presidential term of Lukashenka, including weekly Saturday’s Women Marches and massive Sunday rallies. This week, Belarusians flooded the streets after a “secret” inauguration ceremony on September 23,...

For almost 50 days Belarusians continue daily protests against the illegitimacy of the 6th presidential term of Lukashenka, including weekly Saturday’s Women Marches and massive Sunday rallies. This week, Belarusians flooded the streets after a “secret” inauguration ceremony on September 23, which resulted in police’s use of water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades and detention of over 380 people during post-inauguration protests 

The daily solidarity and protests actions do not fade away across the country – up to 10% of the population participated in the street post-election protests. Peaceful resistance includes hanging national flags, restoring graffiti, releasing public appeals (mothers of large families, doctorsathletes), creating patriotic flags of districts, student chains of solidarity, quitting government service (the MFA head’s son left his position at MFA), etc. The IT volunteers developed an artificial intelligence that unmasks riot police.

Civil society. The new Mara (Dream) bot-assistant aggregates information about all types of civil society’s assistance, professional and local chats, opportunities for volunteers, etc. Press Club launches new emergency support services for journalists. The BY_help initiative has helped over 800 victims of repressions and their families. In total, over $6.3 million have been raised locally to support Belarusians.

Coordination Council. The health of one of the Council leaders, lawyer Maksim Znak, has deteriorated following the 8-day hunger strike in jail. Maria Kalesnikava’s lawyer was detained in connection with supposed administrative offense. The Council’s leaders in exile addressed the European Parliament. The New York Times uncovers Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s story about her improbable rise from stay-at-home mom to a revolutionary icon.

Repressions. The authorities continue mass detentions of protesters and targeted repressions against activists. The number of the detained since the start of the elections is close to 13,000 people, an anti-record for Eastern Europe’s police repression. Over 250 criminal cases have been opened. The leaders of strike committees are under ongoing harassment. 72 political prisoners remain in jail, including 2 new political prisoners, a human rights activist and active Minsker, this week.

. Since the beginning of the year, over 300 cases of violations of the journalists’ rights are recorded. Nasha Niva chief editor was detained as a suspect in a criminal case. Nasha Niva will be fined for the situation when riot police shot their journalist – the case is interpreted as a “work-related injury.” Four Belsat journalists remain in jail. Media monitoring: State-run TV drives the wedge deeper into society.

Economy in recession. The EDB forecasts that the GDP will fall by 2.3% in 2020. The industry is in a state of bad debts. Belarus is on the verge of downgrading its sovereign credit rating. The draft of the 2021 national budget remains deeply deficient. Over 30% of Belarusian IT specialists say that their companies are ready to relocate them abroad. The IT country is rolling back by at least 5 years.

International reactionWestern countries, including the U.S.EU, all Belarus’ neighbors (except Russia), in response to the 6th inauguration of Lukashenka, reacted by not recognizing him as president-elect. Mikhail Gorbachev, the first president of the USSR states that “Belarusians [protesters] are doing great.” The official Minsk responds that the “multi-vector policy does not ensure the necessary external conditions for Belarus’ favorable development anymore.”

COVID-19. For the first time since July, over 300 new daily cases are registered in Belarus. Almost 77,000 Belarusians positively tested for and 807 died due to COVID-19.

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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