Live Feed | 15 Sept

15 September 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
Stepan Latypov
Source: TUT.BY

7:45 am A criminal case has been commenced against a young woman who tore off the mask of an unidentified man in civilian clothes (“tikhar”).

8:15 am One of the residents of Minsk painted the benches in her area in white-red-white colors. After a while, someone covered them with sand. Readers report that some residents are unhappy with the new color of the benches and tell the “artist” to repaint them red-green.

9:39 am Well-known Belarusian sports journalist and initiator of numerous charity projects Sergei Shchurko has been sentenced to 15 days in prison. He was detained yesterday, he was held at the detention center at Akrescina Street. 

9:53 am The lawyer of a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council Maxim Znak has filed a motion to terminate the criminal prosecution against Mr. Znak.

“The criminal prosecution against Znak is the prosecution of a lawyer for carrying out his professional duties,” believes his lawyer Dmitry Laevsky.

9:55 am Residents have renovated the DJs mural in Peremen Square again. It’s been the tenth time!

Source: TUT.BY

9:55 am Valery Tsepkalo, a former presidential candidate of the Republic of Belarus, has spoken on the alleged future of Lukashenko: “International lawyers are preparing documents to bring Lukashenko to justice in the international criminal court in The Hague. Even if Lukashenko’s regime holds on for some time, we will make sure that there is a trial in Hague ahead.”

9:56 am The Washington Post has published an article by Svetlana Tikhanovskaya “The regime in Belarus is trying to steal our victory. It won’t succeed”.

10:00 am Graduates of the International Relations Department of Belarusian State University have recorded a video message in support of its students. They called on the University administration to condemn the violence.

10:09 am The journalist of the “Media-Polesye” Yevgeny Nikolaevich detained on 30 August in Pinsk is reported to be held in the temporary detention facility. He is accused of taking part in an unauthorized rally. The court has sentenced him to 10 days in prison for doing his job. The court session lasted 5 minutes.
The journalist was severely beaten during the arrest.

10:30 am Over 400 representatives of Russian art and culture (including directors of the leading Russian theaters, as well as well known actors) have published an open letter in support of their Belarusian colleagues. The text was published in the “Theater” magazine. 

11:17 am Aleksey Begun, the head of the department for citizenship and migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus, has said that the recognition of Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz’s passport as invalid does not deprive him of the Belarusian citizenship.

He has stated that the verification of the affiliation of the Archbishop of the Catholic Church to the citizenship of the Republic of Belarus and the documents submitted by him during the naturalization procedure, had been started even before Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz left for Poland. Therefore, the events that followed are just a coincidence.

11:45 am Belarusian solidarity foundations (BY_help, BYSOL, Honest People, Imena, Support Victims of Police Brutality in Belarus, Human Rights Foundation) have jointly raised over six million dollars.

11:50 am The 47 HRC Member States decided to hold on an urgent debate on the #HumanRights situation in #Belarus on 18 September 2020!

The decision was made by 25 votes in favor, 20 abstentions & 2 against.

This will be the 5th urgent debate held by the Council, & the 2nd decided by vote.

12:00 pm Unidentified men in masks have come to the Square of Changes again to paint over the DJs mural (for the eleventh time). Residents are protecting the mural, at least one person has been detained.

12:15 pm “The European Union did not recognise the election in Belarus and, therefore, does not recognise President Lukashenko’s legitimacy,” said EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. Currently the EU is analysing in which areas it could freeze its relations with Belarus, and intends to impose sanctions in the coming week.

12:20 am In Grodno, the OMON again arrested the musician and public figure Igor Bantsar. He performed an artistic action at the building of the regional court, where today his case was to be considered.

12:30 pm The fight for the mural on “Square of Changes” continues. A video, depicting the arrest of one of the mural’s defenders, has been released. This is how a neighbour described the situation: 

“The police came. Asked people to disperse. Among the residents who stood by the wall, there was Stepan (Latypov). He asked the officers to introduce themselves. They refused, saying that they would introduce themselves at the police station… in the end, they started pulling him by his arms and legs, pushed him to the police car, and threw him to the ground. People began to intervene. In the middle of all this fracas, people in khaki uniforms without insignia showed up, shouting “Everybody disperse!”. Stepan was loaded into the minibus.”

12:40 pm journalist Irina Kuptsevich was arrested in Bobruisk under Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code. Irina came to her brother’s court hearing – he was charged with the participation in an unsanctioned event. In the courthouse, “a policeman asked her name, and then immediately arrested her”.

Irina Kupcevich
Source: TUT.BY

12:50 pm Journalists’ trials continue

Alexander Vasyukovich’s trial continues – he’s been charged with participating in a protest on Ramanouskaya Sloboda. 

He claims that he participated there as a journalist, working on a news report. He has all the appropriate credentials and attestations. 

“At about 8:00 pm, my colleagues and I went to the bar, in order to send pictures to the editorial office. At about 9 pm, they went out for a smoke, returned and were immediately arrested by the OMON (riot police). 

“The riot policemen came to the bar and twisted our arms. They saw our equipment lying on the table, and let us collect it. Then they twisted our arms again,” told the journalist. 

During the trial, the judge ignored the lawyer’s request to question witnesses and watch video footage from cameras.

Katyarina Andreeva and Maksim Kalitovsky’s trials will continue in the Oktyabrskiy District Court at 2:15 and 2:30 pm.

At 2:30 pm, the three-day period after the arrests at the Women’s March on Saturday is over.

1:00 pm People in balaclavas brought the recently arrested Stepan Latypov to the hallway of his house, and broke down the hallway door as well as the apartment door.

Stepan Latypov
Stepan Latypov after his home was searched.
Source: TUT.BY

1:20 pm Nasha Niva published their account on the last days of the protester Nikita Krivtsov, who was found hanged in Minsk. 

On 9 August, the man was in Molodechno, where he stood with the white-red-white flag in front of a line of security officials. The next day, he was already in Minsk, fled from security officials, and returned to Zhodina. On 11 August, he was still in touch with his contacts, and on 12 August – no longer. A witness claims that on 13 August, he saw Krivtsov alive, his face beat-up, on the MKAD beltway in Minsk; Krivtsov asked to tell his mother that he was all right. 

Also, Nasha Niva journalists have analyzed the photo taken by the man who discovered Krivtsov’s body on 22 August.

“In the photo, Nikita is standing on the ground. It is hard to imagine how one could commit suicide in such position,” the article says. 

2:00 pm In Minsk, people again started forming numerous chains of solidarity.

2:30 pm Students of Minsk State University Law Department took to the demonstration blindfolded, carrying the Constitution in their hands, calling on Belarusian Themis to be objective. 

Source: TUT.BY

Students of Belarusian State Technological University joined into a solidarity chain on Sverdlov Street.

2:45 pm Cyber Partisans hacked another two websites.

On 15 September, the websites of State Procurements and Belarusian Universal Commodity Exchange stopped working.

3:00 pm Freelance journalist Marina Drabyshevskaya was sentenced to 10 days in prison.

The journalist’s mother felt unwell when the arrest of her daughter was announced. The woman is disabled, she needs care, and her daughter has been sent to a pre-trial prison for ten days for a made-up offense.

3:01 pm It turns out that the hacking of the public procurement site is due to the fact that an announcement of the Minsk City Executive Committee, which intends to buy 200 bullet proof jackets, has been seen today on their web-page. “You shouldn’t buy bullet proof jackets in a peaceful country,” the hackers wrote. The stock exchange press office denies the hacker attack.

3:05 pm The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine made an official statement on Belarus: “The presidential elections were neither free nor fair”.

3:23 pm The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch calls on the UN and the OSCE to investigate the violence of the security forces in Belarus and cites evidence of torture. This is stated in the report of the organization.

3:35 pm In Belarus, an agreement with a lawyer for provision of legal assistance “equals” to intention to break the law. On 11 September, IT specialist Pavel Manko was convicted for participating in an unauthorized mass event.

The judge stated in the ruling: the fact that Manko had entered into a legal assistance agreement with a lawyer indicates that he intended to participate in an unauthorized rally in advance. This creates a dangerous precedent when the constitutional right to legal defense is interpreted as intention to break the law, experts say.

3:39 pm As of today, 12 Belarusian companies representing the information and communication technologies (ICT) industry and other technological industries, such as green energy, have made a decision to transfer their businesses to Latvia. This is stated on the website of the Ministry of Economy of Latvia.

3:46 pm The case of the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Belarus Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz is now being dealt with by the Vatican. This was stated by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“In any case, we insist that the bishop can return and continue to care for his parish,” the cardinal said. “Let us remind you that the Archbishop was denied entry to Belarus two weeks ago, allegedly, on the pretext of holding an invalid passport, despite being the citizen of Belarus.”

3:49 pm Maria Kalesnikava’s defence lawyer Lyudmila Kazak filed a motion to end the criminal proceedings against Maria, as she believes that Maria’s public speeches do not contain any calls for the seizure of state power. The defence considers the persecution of Maria Kalesnikava to be politically motivated. The defence also filed a complaint on the fact that a forensic medical examination has not yet been carried out in relation to Maria in order to record her bodily harm inflicted during her detention.

3:53 pm Thousands of graduates, teachers and students of the Belarusian Music Academy have joined the #FreeKalesnikava campaign. The action was initiated by the Belarusian Free Theater. The protesters signed an open letter in defence of their colleague Maria Kalesnikava, demanding an end to her illegal persecution.

The signatories include laureates of international competitions, famous composers, performers and conductors well known in the country and abroad.

3:59 pm Volha Kavalkova, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, met with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Monday.

“Fruitful meeting in Stockholm with representative of the Belarusian opposition Olga Kovalkova. Discussed way forward towards a national dialogue. Repression and violence against peaceful demonstrators and opposition are completely unacceptable,” Ann Linde said on Twitter.

4:06 pm Belsat journalists Katerina Andreeva and Maksim Kalitovsky have been released.

4:16 pm Stepan Latypov has been detained for trying to protect the mural on the Square of Changes, Nexta telegram channel reports.

Unidentified men wearing masks and without any insignia tried to break into the apartment known to belong to Latypov.

The neighbours began to worry and wonder what was the matter and who the people were. As it transpired, the unidentified men were from the police and were conducting investigative actions. They refused to show any identification documents.

4:25 pm In Minsk, Stepan Latypov was led out of his apartment by the security officers. He managed to inform the journalists that he was detained, as you can see on the video.

Latypov was detained due to a criminal case, his lawyer Ilya Perkhalsky said.

4:35 pm The Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee of Belarus announced the purchase of nine shredders. Euroradio wonders, why there’s “a need to destroy documents so urgently.”

4:46 pm A policeman was seen in a Minsk kindergarten #344. Reports say write that the police “had conversations with the older kids.” TUT.BY journalists were not able to verify this when they called the head of the kindergarten: she refused to comment and hung up.

4:51 pm Minsk. The students from the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics organized a rally “Verses on barricades.” Students read classic and modern poems about Belarus, freedom and the role of the police in modern society.

4:56 pm The daily flag hunt in Minsk ended again with a failure for the men in masks, according to the video.

5:00 pm By the order of the dean’s office of the Belarusian State Medical University, following a court order, the student of the pediatric faculty will have to pay for the classes missed when she was in custody at the detention centre at Akrescina Street and in the court during the hearing of the case against her, @ruparbdmu reports.

5:05 pm The Vitebsk court fined an oncologist Anna Gaidash for participating in two peaceful rallies, TUT.BY reports. Apparently, the law enforcement officers have no intention to get sick.

5:15 pm According to UNESCO, as of 30 June 2020, 21 protests were recorded around the world, during which journalists were attacked and detained. First, the center of this trend was Hong Kong, then the United States, and now it’s Belarus.

The current UNESCO report hasn’t included any data for events which took place in August and September in Belarus, where journalists get detained and arrested literally daily.

5:24 pm Do you think the torture in detention centers is over? Today, the people detained during Sunday’s peaceful marches were tried in courts.
Among them was Mikhail Klachkov, a student of the Belarusian State Institute of Informatics and Radioelectronics.

In the courtroom, Mikhail said that when he was taken to the Central District police station, the police ordered him to give them access to his phone. When Mikhail refused, they took him to the corridor and started beating him until he lost consciousness.

The “witnesses” alleged that they were receiving threats, so they were “testifying” via a video link sitting in front of their monitors in masks with their names changed. Any request from the judge to show the documents were ignored. Klachkov was sentenced to 10 days, peaceful_bsuir reports.

5:31 pm The vaccination against COVID-19 using the vaccine from Russia will start “within a month” in Belarus, according to the Belarus-24 TV channel citing the statement made by the acting Head of the Ministry of Health. At the same time, RBC reports that about 14% of the volunteers participating in the third phase trial of the Sputnik V vaccine felt unwell, as announced by the head of the Russian Ministry of Health Mikhail Murashko. He clarified that such trial results were, allegedly, normal.

5:42 pm The chairman of the independent trade union “Belshina,” arrested on 12 September has declared and continues his hunger strike, as confirmed by his colleagues who were released on 14 September.

According to the telegram channel @bnkbel, more than 100,000 people are on strike at enterprises in Belarus.

5:55 pm Euroradio has investigated who is taking part in the pro-government rallies. So, it turned out that amongst pro-Lukashenko supporters are the extras from TV shows; an anti-Semite who allegedly came from France but was identified by his neighbors as a resident of Minsk. Influential russian blogger Rustem Adagamov identified Russian Aleksei Kulakov, who took part in an attack on the Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny in 2017.

Kulakov is known as a member of the Russian nationalist group SERB. This group became known for the first time in Ukraine in 2014, fighting Euromaidan, and then moved to Russia, where it is fighting the anti-Putin opposition.

6:00 pm Lyudmila Taranok, who tore a mask off the face of a “man in plain clothes” at a solidarity rally in Hrodna, has been sentenced to 10 days of detention and a fine of 405 Belarusian roubles ($156).

6:05 pm The cases of two photographers Aleksandr Vasyukovich and Vladimir Hrydzin, who had been detained after a rally while sending materials to their editors from a cafe on 13 September, were sent to the police department for further questioning.

6:45 pm The mass relocation of IT companies from Belarus has now become even more likely, says a study by Russian Sberbank’s Center for Macroeconomic Research.

The study notes that beyond short-term effects, political destabilization in Belarus is likely to cause significant risks for the long-term dynamics of the country’s development. Interfax reports that according to the Ministry of Economy of Latvia, 12 IT companies have already decided to relocate to Latvia from Belarus.

6:53 pm “Lukashenka has not a drop of legitimacy left”: a bipartisan group of 13 US senators has submitted a resolution calling for targeted sanctions against Belarusian officials responsible for the dispersal of peaceful demonstrations. The US will reach an agreement with the European Union and other international partners with regard to sanctions. The text of the resolution states that the presidential elections in Belarus were “neither free nor fair,” and their official results were invalidated.

7:02 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has recorded a video message in support of Maxim Znak, who is currently in detention. She stated that detaining a lawyer for conducting his professional duties means that “Belarusians may lose their last chances for defense” and also demanded the release of all political prisoners.

7:16 pm Websites of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee and the Main Directorate of Internal Affairs of the Minsk City Executive Committee have been unavailable since tonight. The Cyber Partisans Telegram channel is displaying a message indicating that five websites have been blocked. It is not yet known which sites they are referring to. 

7:44 pm Sergei Gurlo, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Belarusian tire manufacturer Belshina, has gone on a hunger strike in the Bobruisk detention center, according to activists who were released from there today.

7:51 pm Police officers have arrived at the “Square of Changes,” where local residents are gathered. People asked them to leave the playground and not frighten the children. Earlier, people had hung red and white ribbons on the fence. Currently, the police officers are just standing by the fence.

7:57 pm According to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Hrodna police have detained individuals distributing leaflets with pictures of riot police officers and a postscript: “Punishers are among us! Shame!»

Those detained included a 34-year-old transport company logistician and her 37-year-old partner. Their actions will be investigated.

8:00 pm Heather Shkliarov, the wife of the arrested political strategist Vitali Shkliarov, told Buzzfeed that he has been abused and denied medical treatment after showing COVID-19-like symptoms while in custody. Among other things, he is only allowed to bathe once a week with a bucket of water, is regularly subjected to hours-long extreme strip searches, and has bright lights and loud music on in his cell at all times, not allowing him to sleep. She believes that this psychological pressure is an attempt to extract a false confession.

Mr. Shkliarov was arrested in Hrodna on 29 July and accused of organizing an illegal campaign rally.

8:34 pm Stepan Latypov, a resident of the “Square of Change” who was detained earlier today is to stay in the detention ward on Akrescina Street on suspicion of participation in civil unrest (Article 293 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus), according to his lawyer, Ilya Perkhalsky.

8:43 pm Police asked residents at the “Square of Change” to stop hanging red and white ribbons on the fence. People asked for the basis of such a request but haven’t received an answer.

Later, the police returned and began walking along the fence, in order to stop them. The adults and children in the yard started chanting “This is our yard!”

People decorating a fence with red and white ribbons at the Square of Change (TUT.BY)

9:43 pm Aliaksei Kurachev, 20, who was detained during the protests on 13 August, has reported what happened to him and other protesters after they were detained. According to Aliaksei, the detainees were severely beaten for a long time in a special police van. The security forces also cut off his hair. At some point, Aliaksei had to pretend he had lost consciousness in order for them to stop beating him.

Later in the hospital, he was diagnosed with a mild brain injury, concussion, bruises, traumatic shock of the 2nd degree, and fracture.
Aliaksei is now being treated in Warsaw, but after the recovery, he intends to return to Minsk.

9:44 pm In an interview with the BBC, Mikita Mikado, the founder of PandaDoc IT Company, announced that he has suspended the project providing financial assistance to security forces officers who have resigned due to their civil position and beliefs. According to Mikado, this was a personal decision made due to the detention and arrest of PandaDoc employees. 

He stated he was forced to make this choice in order to ensure the safety of his colleagues. “I don’t want anyone else not involved in my initiative to go to jail,” he said. 

Currently, Mikita Mikado is relocating PandaDoc’s Belarusian office to another country.

9:48 pm Most of the people have now left the “Square of Change”. No one has been detained there this evening. 

10:18 pm American company Sandvine Inc., whose technology was earlier used to block the Internet in Belarus, has terminated its agreement with Belarus, claiming that the government had used its technology to violate human rights, Bloomberg reported.

10:20 pm Irina Petrova, who was holding a 30-meter white-red-white flag during the March of Heroes, was fined 405 Belarus rubles ($156).

Irina stated that at her trial, she was found guilty of “walking around the streets with a group of people and shouting slogans, and disturbing the peace.” 

10:30 pm Employees of one of Belarus’s largest chemical enterprises “Hrodna Azot” have reported a shutdown of the “Ammonia-3” processing unit due to an equipment malfunction. This has caused a chain reaction and shut down other units, such as “Carbamide-3.”

Technicians are trying to conduct repairs, the management has gathered for a meeting. If the ammonia unit is unable to resume operations within 1 or 2 days, it may be shut down for a long time, which would lead to serious economic consequences.