23 October 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
Good morning, the 76th day of the protests begins.
7:44 am Minsk. Workers started to assemble an unknown structure on Independence Square at night. Perhaps it will be the stage for a pro-Lukashenko rally on 25 October.
7:59 am Late in the evening, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s channel reported that Hillary Clinton, Dalia Grybauskaitė and Věra Jourová supported the women of Belarus.
“Never underestimate the power of #WomenRisingForDemocracy. #StandWithBelarus” Dalia Grybauskaitė, former president of Lithuania, wrote on her Twitter.
Hillary Clinton called on everyone to support the women of Belarus: “Join me in standing with the brave women of Belarus.”
8:41 am A new project, 23-34.net, has started. Its goal is to collect information on absolutely all violations by the police related to peaceful demonstrations, going back to the very start of the election campaign.
8:47 am The young men who were detained while photographing a chain of solidarity were sentenced in Mahiliou. Both men were detained on 19 October. According to them, they were detained by “druzhinniki” [a people’s volunteer squad for maintaining public order].
The court sentenced one man to 8 days of detention; the other was ordered to pay a fine equivalent to 10 basic salaries.
8:52 am Protest actions have been taking place in Minsk since the morning. People are standing in solidarity chains and flying white-red-white flags.
9:44 am At least eight people were detained and sent to the temporary detention facility in the Novobelitsky district of Homel yesterday.
9:50 am Lukashenko flew to the Slutsk region. “Pool Pervogo” reports: “Reports, field visits, farms and tastings are planned.”
“Expelled” student channel reports that Lukashenko also plans to visit the Slutsk State College.
10:12 am During a visit to the Slutsk region, Lukashenko stated that the prices for agricultural products would be rigorously controlled. “The task of the Minsk mayor and the governors is to distribute vegetables and potatoes in such a way, so that prices do not jump in winter, and there are enough vegetables until the next harvest,” he said.
There are two days left before the People’s Ultimatum.
10:17 am TUT.BY writes that, according to unverified information, the pro-government rally on 25 October may be cancelled. The information is being verified.
10:19 am Mahiliou journalist Anton Turkov has been sentenced to 15 days of detention. The trial took place two months after his detention during the march on 23 August.
10:33 am The stage assembled near the Stele [Minsk Hero City Obelisk] last night is now being dismantled. The stage erected on Independence Square is being dismantled too. It seems the pro-Lukashenko meeting will not go ahead.
According to one version, people did not want to go despite having been offered 50-100 rubles (20-40 USD).
10:55 am Official Telegram channel “Pool Pervogo” reports that “half of the potatoes that Lukashenko collected on his plot, he gave to riot police”.
10:58 am ⚡️ The Sunday pro-Lukashenko rally in Minsk has been officially cancelled due to the coronavirus.
11:09 am The court has closed the administrative case against the journalist Maria Grits, the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports.
11:10 am Reporters Without Borders called on the UN to condemn the unprecedented pressure on journalists in Belarus.
11:23 am ❗️ In front of his own children, the organiser of the Lukashenko rally beat a man, his neighbour, such that the victim sustained a head injury.
12:00 pm A 15-year-old admin of Belarus Punishers’ IDs Telegram channel detained in Dobrush
According to TUT.BY, the police believe the teenager used the messaging app to publish and update law enforcement officials’ personal data.
The police are conducting an investigation and have taken over the channel to establish who leaked the lists of law enforcement agency personnel to the teen.
12:05 pm Lists of political prisoners posted in Malinauka
A fence with information on Belarus’ political prisoners has been erected not far from the zubr installation in the Minsk district of Malinauka.
“They are in jail for our freedom,” reads the poster.
To remind you, the nation has as many as 102 political prisoners as of 23 October.
Human rights advocates view their prosecution as politically motivated and triggered by their “exercise of their freedom of peaceful assembly and expression of their opinion on the announced results of the presidential election in Belarus”.
12:15 pm Pro-government rally irrevocably cancelled, Lukashenko claims to have never favoured the idea
The constructions for the stage at the Stele and on Independence Square have been fully dismantled, though their installation began yesterday evening and continued until late at night.
At a meeting in Slutsk, Lukashenko asserted he had never favoured the idea of the rally, even though, according to him, “a great many people – around 250,000-300,000” – wanted to come to Minsk.
However, the government decided to cancel the event fearing for the participants’ safety.
“A single explosion in the crowd is enough for people to start trampling each other like they did in Niamiha,” he said.
12:20 pm Prosecutor General meets with BSUIR students
At a meeting with students, Prosecutor General Andrei Shved explained to the audience that they could be expelled from the university within 24 hours, recommended appropriate Telegram channels to follow, and asserted that the government has enough resources to detect every single illegitimate act, according to the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
“It is unacceptable to use educational institutions as a platform for creation or operation of political parties or other public associations pursuing political goals. This is a global standard,” Shved said, also emphasising that their approach was highly liberal.
According to TUT.BY, the Prosecutor General’s Office has recently lost several highly qualified professionals, who resigned in disagreement with the government’s treatment of peaceful protesters.
12:50 pm Doctors summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office in Vitsebsk
The doctors from Vitsebsk who recorded a video address to the Belarusian government and nation started getting summons to the Prosecutor’s Office.
1:15 pm NEXTA Telegram channel losing subscribers
After a court of law in Minsk deemed the Telegram channels and logo of the NEXTA project (reads as “niekhta” in Belarusian) to be extremist materials, the channel started losing dozens of thousands of subscribers.
On 20 October alone, the NEXTA Live Telegram channel lost 25,000 subscribers (compared to 5,000 a day before). The audience of the NEXTA channel dropped by 11,000 on 20 October (compared to a decline of just 1,500 on the previous day).
1:35 pm Anatoly Lebedko walks free
The politician and leader of the old Belarusian opposition has served a 15-day sentence for participating in an unauthorised public event.
Yulia Gustyr, judge of the Central District of Mnsk, passed the sentence.
1:55 pm Novy Chas journalist detained
Zinaida Timoshek, a journalist of the Novy Chas newspaper, has been detained in Slutsk, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
She is now in custody at the local police department. The grounds for her detainment remain unknown.
2:10 pm Journalists to go on trial today in Brest
Journalists Roman Chmel and Maxim Khlebets, who were detained last week, will be put on trial today at the Brest City Court.
Their cases have returned to court from revision, as the journalists were informed.
Both are charged with participation in an unauthorised public event last Sunday in Brest, even though Brestskaya Gazeta photographer Roman Chmel and its freelance correspondent Maxim Khlebets insist they were discharging their professional duties.
2:30 pm Stanislav Shushkevich reveals details of a break-in attempt at his son’s apartment
The first leader of an independent Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, has told Euroradio that unknown individuals tried to break into his son’s apartment on the morning of 23 September.
The politician believes that the pressure on his son is the Belarusian secret services’ attempt to influence him.
2:45 pm Professor and historian Ales Smolenchuk sentenced in Hrodna
For participation in a mass protest on 20 September, the Leninsky District Court in Hrodna has sentenced professor and Doctor of History Ales Smolenchuk to a fine of 20 basic values (around 180 euros).
3:00 pm BSUIR students gathered for a sit-in protest.
3:11 pm The captain of the Belarusian women’s basketball team, Yekaterina Snytina, stood with Belarusian women on Instagram:
“The men are beaten and taken away in prisoner transporters – and they [the women] go back out into the streets to protest. The riot police beat up people lying on the ground; they cover them with their bodies for protection. They are attacked with weapons and water cannons; they pick up flowers and umbrellas and go for a walk in their favourite cities. They never give up! They are the women of Belarus.”
3:24 pm BNTU students and teachers recorded a video message in which they spoke out against violence and lawlessness and expressed solidarity with everyone peacefully and openly expressing their civic position.
3:30 pm The headquarters of Viktar Babaryka, with the support of the Viasna Human Rights Centre, the International Committee for the Investigation of Torture, the Coordination Council, the “Honest People” initiative and the “Voice” platform, launched a special project called 23-34.net. Their slogan is: “We will turn administrative cases against us into criminal cases against them.”
The goal is to collect information on absolutely all cases of violations by the police related to peaceful actions, starting with the beginning of the election campaign. The authors of the project ask everyone detained and convicted under articles related to participation in peaceful protests to share their stories of detention and arrest on the website, https://www.23-34.net. They plan to publish statistics after they receive their first thousand stories.
3:50 pm Dzianis Gutkin, head of the Department for Ideological Work and Youth Affairs, resigned at the Polatsk regional executive committee. He did not comment on the reasons for leaving but confirmed that he had resigned.
4:11 pm Students of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology supported student protests in Belarus.
4:20 pm In Brest, journalist Maksim Khlebets was sentenced to 15 days in jail for “participating in the protest”. He and journalist Roman Chmel were detained on 18 October while carrying out their professional duties – covering the Sunday march of those in support of change. The verdict for Roman Chmel is still unknown.
4:45 pm Cultural figures supported Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s ultimatum in a new video message.
5:00 pm The second Brest journalist, Roman Chmel, was also sentenced to 15 days in jail.
“Citizens in blue capes were among the people who chanted ‘Long live Belarus’ and ‘Minsk, we are with you’ while moving in the column. It was clear that the column was following them and they knew where to lead it. After the arrest of these citizens, the procession in Brest ended. […] They also did not perform their characteristic duties: they did not take pictures, they did not shoot videos, they did not broadcast, they did not interview anyone,” said a witness, Deputy Head of the Brest Region Aliaksandar Kisel.
5:15 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is completing her working visit to Denmark. The main goal of the trip was to negotiate the assistance that Denmark can provide to Belarusian workers, human rights defenders, cultural and sports figures, and the entire civil society of Belarus.
During her visit, Sviatlana met with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as well as representatives of the trade union movement in Denmark and Europe, representatives of Danish NGOs, and representatives of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
5:20 pm The satirical song about Shchuchynshchyna blew up the Belarusian Internet and has already gathered more than half a million views on Youtube.
5:30 pm A demonstration dedicated to Belarusian political prisoners has started in Prague. The faces of political prisoners Ihar Losik, Marfa Rabkova and Maria Kalesnikava appeared on the main streets of Prague on large billboards with the hashtag #BelarusHeroes.
5:35 pm Correspondent Zinaida Timoshek, detained in Slutsk today, was placed in a pre-trial detention centre.
This poses a great danger to Timoshek’s health since she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. As a result of this disease, the joints become inflamed and very painful, and the conditions of the detention centre can irreversibly worsen Timoshek’s health.
5:40 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya supported everyone who will join the strike if the authorities fail to fulfil the conditions of the Ultimatum.
“The People’s Ultimatum is the will of the Belarusian people. On 25 October, Belarusians will take to the streets demanding an end to the violence, the release of political prisoners, and new elections. And this is impossible without Lukashenko’s departure. If these demands are not met, on 26 October, Belarusians will declare a nationwide strike,” she said in a new video message.
5:50 pm Over 1,000 medical professionals have signed an open letter calling for new elections and condemning violence.
Those who signed the letter include well-known physicians, such as Aliaksei Tsiganov, an epidemiologist and head doctor, as well as Aliaksandr Mrochek, a cardiologist, professor and well-respected researcher at NAN Belarus. Many other respected Belarusian doctors also signed.
Now, doctors (following in the footsteps of athletes, cultural figures, and others) have taken a stance against Lukashenko and violence – in their own open letter signed by leading figures of the profession.
6:09 pm For two months, Netflix has been filming a documentary project on the Belarusian protests, which began following the 9 August presidential elections.
The first to write about the project was Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s adviser on international affairs Franak Viačorka, followed by basketball player Yahor Meshcharakou. In an interview as part of the “Life is a Raspberry” project, athletes noted that they met with a documentary filmmaker, and filming will continue for about six to eight more weeks.
The protagonists of the upcoming documentary are the protesters themselves, the Coordination Council, and Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Filming is taking place in Minsk, Kyiv, and Vilnius.
The editor-in-chief of TUT.BY, Marina Zolotova, and journalist Stanislav Korshunov also took part in filming.
6:57 pm Lukashenko claims that the coronavirus situation is completely under control. “We have enough medication, this is a system we created. We are not dragging everyone to the hospital. If there is someone who is having a hard time, if we see that he is seriously sick, then, of course, we will send him to the hospital. Because he needs oxygen, to be put on a ventilator.
“We have to live normally and always be prepared for any disease. If God sees that you are trying to take care of yourself, to protect yourself, just maybe He will help,” Lukashenko stated. “But in no case should we ever hide. Yes, where there are a lot of people you have to use a mask – in a store, on the metro, other places. Where you have to wear a mask, you should wear one. And you should spend more time in the fresh air, in the woods is better,” he continued.
7:54 pm Mental health workers in Belarus recorded a video message “in response to the statements by the Ministry of Internal Affairs regarding their readiness to deploy weapons and special equipment against the elderly, and the general escalation of violence”.
8:15 pm Well-known Belarusian cardiologist Aliaskandr Mrochek spoke about what is happening in Belarus: “There is the profession of defending the motherland! And then, there is violating, beating, and crippling the motherland.”
9:59 pm Belstat reports that in the third quarter of 2020, the actual unemployment rate was 4%.
10:12 pm Once again, Friday night is marked by courtyard concerts and solidarity chains! #LongLiveBelarus!