Archbishop Kandrusewicz was able to return to Belarus and celebrate a solemn Christmas Mass at last; in Lithuania, the Presidential Administration’s sanatorium accounts are frozen; American partners refused to do business with Synesis, a company on the sanctions list
24 December 2020 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
“When I crossed the border I fell to my knees, thanked God for my return and kissed the ground,” Archbishop Kandrusewicz returned to his homeland
Tadeusz Kandrusewicz returned to his homeland on Christmas Eve, 24 December, after almost four months in exile. In late August, Belarusian authorities banned Tadeusz Kandrusewicz from entering the country. Then Alexander Lukashenko stated that Kandrusewicz “had traveled to Poland and received advice on how to destroy the country.” The head of Belarusian Catholics has repeatedly called on the authorities to stop violence against protesters. The situation with the Archbishop’s return to his homeland was resolved only after Lukashenko’s meeting with Vatican’s special representative Claudio Gugerotti, who delivered a letter from Pope Francis to Minsk on 17 December.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kandrusewicz held Christmas services in the Minsk Cathedral of the Holy Name of Mary. The Catholics in the main church of Belarus greeted the hierarch with applause. In his Christmas sermon, Kandrusewicz noted that Belarusians were celebrating the holiday in the challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic and socio-political crisis in the country. New challenges, he said, should prompt people to go back to being true believers. He also thanked everyone who had helped in arranging his return to Belarus. With tears in his eyes, he said that he perceived what had been happening to him as a cross that he had to carry, and did not lose hope for his return. “No matter where I would serve, I always remember that Belarus is my homeland. And today when I crossed the border I asked the driver to stop, I fell to my knees, thanked God for my return, and kissed the ground. This is my land. I grew up here. I want to be here. I want to serve here. I have never acted against Belarus. I have always defended its interests and I will continue to do so,” he said.
The festive Christmas Mass was not broadcast from the Minsk Cathedral but rather from Mahiliou
In previous years the state television used to broadcast the Christmas Mass from the Minsk Cathedral. But this year the broadcast came from Mahiliou. The church representatives said that the state television suggested that any bishop but Yury Kasabutski, who had spoken out against the intensification of repression against the Catholic Church more than once, should be conducting the Mass. The celebratory Mass was celebrated by Aliaksandr Yasheuski, Auxiliary Bishop of Mahiliou.
“Sin is the worst thing. But second most terrible thing is living in fear or in absence of peace,” Bishop Yasheuski quoted St. Francis de Sales. “So much terror, violence, and repression are out there!” said the bishop about the current situation in the world. “This year’s holiday is not very joyful,” he also noted. “The whole world has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. And Belarus has also been shaken by a socio-political crisis. Can the celebration be truly full of joy if a family table has empty seats or when a family is in mourning?” asked the Bishop, hinting at the political prisoners and people killed on the streets of Belarusian cities. “May peace come to our country and God’s truth, justice, and freedom prevail. In order to become a nation you need to engage in a dialogue, face to face and shoulder to shoulder,” said Bishop Yasheuski. “May Belarus become a country of peace and mutual respect again,” the Bishop emphasized.
The accounts of the sanatorium “Belarus” located in Lithuania were frozen under the EU sanctions
The accounts of the sanatorium “Belarus”, which is located in Druskininkai (Lithuania) and is a part of the business empire of the Office of the President of Belarus, were frozen. The Office of the President of Belarus became one of the entities that were included in the third package of EU sanctions, which was approved on 17 December 2020. The sanatorium’s accounts were opened in the Swedish Swedbank, and the bank had frozen the accounts. The blocking of the accounts came as a surprise to the sanatorium’s management. The sanatorium has 393 employees. It is regularly ranked among the five largest taxpayers in Druskininkai municipality.
American partners refused to do business with LLC Synesis that came under sanctions
American GSD Venture Studios, as a firm supporter of civil and political rights, refused to cooperate with the Belarusian company Synesis after the latter was added to the EU sanctions list. European officials are confident that Synesis supports and benefits from Lukashenko’s regime. Synesis has been working on a cloud-based public safety monitoring platform Kipod for a few years. It became a basis for the implementation of the Republican system of public safety monitoring in Belarus. The technology developed by Synesis helps Belarusian security forces identify participants of the street protests. Mikola Dziadok, a political activist, was detained and tortured by the security forces with the help of this technology. The state propaganda outlets published a video of him confessing. The video shows that tear gas was used against him.
For more information on the events of 24 December 2020, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: