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Zoo-defenders congress, social parasites database – Civil Society Digest

Persecution of journalists increases in Belarus. The head of an independent trade union leaves his post amid pressure. Criminal prosecution continues against the chief editor of TUT.BY. Belarusians raise money for the reconstruction of the 14th-century Kreva castle. Picketing...

Persecution of journalists increases in Belarus. The head of an independent trade union leaves his post amid pressure. Criminal prosecution continues against the chief editor of TUT.BY.

Belarusians raise money for the reconstruction of the 14th-century Kreva castle. Picketing the scandalous restaurant in Kurapaty continues already 6th months. Minsk hosts the first large congress of zoo-defenders.

Registration of online media starts in Belarus. Belarusians trust state-run media the most. Belarus marks 8888 days with Lukashenka.

Human Rights

Harassment of journalists breaks records in Belarus – nearly 100 fines so far this year. Reporters Without Borders calls on the Belarusian government’s international partners to react to the surge in its persecution of journalists, with nearly 100 fines imposed already this year on reporters working for exile media, namely Belsat TV – an all-time record.

Head of the independent trade union Fedynich leaves his post. The decision was dictated by a court order. Recall that on November 9, the Minsk City Court upheld the sentence to Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, leaders of the independent trade union REP – four years of restraint of liberty without imprisonment and the prohibition to hold managerial positions for a period of 5 years.

BelTA case: Criminal prosecution terminated against all journalists, except TUT.BY editor-in-chief. In total, 15 journalists were accused of unauthorized access to data of the state-owned BelTA news agency. For 14 of them, criminal charges were replaced with administrative liability. Maryna Zolatava, TUT.BY editor-in-chief is still accused of criminal offences and face a fine or five years of imprisonment.

500,000 Belarusians in social parasites database. The database of the ‘freeloaders’ or those who are not employed in Belarusian economy was launched on December 1. According to the president’s decree On Employment, unemployed Belarusians will have to pay a full price for the state-subsidized utilities and communal services starting from February 2019.

Civil society

In two days, Belarusians raised money for a hundred tons of stones for the reconstruction of Krevo Castle. Activist Hleb Labadzenka announced collecting stones through social networks. The raised money allows delivering to the castle 10-20 tons of stones daily. Krevo Castle is an architectural monument that was destroyed during WWI and lay in ruins a hundred of eight hundred years of its existence.

The historic 14th-century Krevo castle. Source: afisha.tut.by

16 Days Campaign of Activism against Gender-Based Violence held in Belarus. The campaign was initiated by UNFPA Belarus together with the government and civil society organizations under the theme #HearMeToo. It lasted from November 25 to December 10. The campaign showed the study on the prevalence of violence against women in Belarus. On December 4, the results of the monitoring of Belarusian media on gender inequality and discrimination were presented.

Picketing the restaurant in Kurapaty continues six months. The restaurant was built near the memorial to the victims of Stalin’s repressions. Activists plan to continue to picket the restaurant until it gets closed. They believe that because of their protest, the restaurant is losing visitors, as well as the issue of perpetuating the memory of Stalinist repression receives a wide public response.

Ecology

First large congress of Belarusian zoo-defenders held in Minsk, on December 1. The congress gathered several dozen activists from all over the country and took place in stormy discussions. The participants agreed that it is necessary to introduce international standards into national legislation; in particular, Belarus should adhere to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

National law about organic agriculture adopted in Belarus. A number of CSOs, including the Center for Environmental Solutions, Agro-Eco-Culture, and EcoHome, have been working for over 5 years on the law together with state and private organizations. The CSOs note that the law is a good sign, that Belarus becoming a country, which starts to move towards the “green” economy.

The first mobile application to identify birds is released by APB BirdLife Belarus. The application requests a description of a bird (the place and the season of observation, size, colour, etc.) and provides several images based on the inputted characteristics. The program contains 325 bird species that can be found in Belarus. The bird guide app is available for free in the Play Market.

Media

Registration of online media starts in Belarus. From December 1, the changes to the Media Law come into force. In particular, the Ministry of Information will register resources that want to receive a media status. The law also introduces a rule on the mandatory identification of authors of online comments. The law applies both to Belarusian and foreign media that work in Belarus.

Poll: Belarusians trust Belarusian state-run media the most. According to the national poll conducted by the Belarusian Analytical Workshop (BAW) at the request of ThinkTanks.by, the largest number of respondents – 29.4% – trusts to the Belarusian state media; 24% – to Russian media; and 10.7% – to Belarusian independent media. Western media have a trust of 8.2% of respondents. The survey was held in June-July 2018.

Belarusian Memorial Chapel. Source: https://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/

KEF poll: 85.6% of Belarusians ready to fight for their country in time of war. This is data of the survey about the values of the Belarusians conducted within the framework of KEF in May-June 2018. Thus, 86.1% of respondents call the Belarusian language ‘an important part of the culture, and it should be preserved’; 85.8% say that they are proud of Belarus.

Other

8888 days with Lukashenka. On November 19, the mythical concurrence of numbers, an infinity date, occurred in Belarus’ history, namely: 8888 days had passed since the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenka as the president. During this period, GDP grew from $17.79 billion up to $54.44 billion; average life expectancy increased by 4.4 years, while population decreased by 736,000 people.

Belarusian chapel in London named World’s Best Religion Building at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Amsterdam. This is like an Oscar for architecture. The small wooden chapel’s design draws inspiration from the wooden churches in Belarus. It operates an energy-saving heating system and has a special walkway for wheelchair users.

Belarusian opened a hostel at the foot of a nuclear power plant. 18 km from Astravets town. The hostel is in demand among workers who are building the first Belarusian nuclear power plant. The hostel manager is confident that the place is safe, because “the degree of protection against radiation is very strong”.

Foreigners in Belarus will be able to register online starting January 2019. The procedure will be free of charge. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also plans to extend the stay of foreign citizens without registration from 5 to 10 days.

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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