13 October 2020 | Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
Good morning, the 66th day of protests begins. According to the human rights centre “Viasna”, more than 70 people were detained yesterday.
9:23 am Siarhei Tsikhanouski had a visit in the KGB pre-trial detention centre yesterday. He refused to shake Lukashenko’s hand, and to be filmed. Tsikhanouski was allowed to call his wife, Sviatlana. The telephone conversation took place in the presence of guards.
9:32 am On Monday, 12 October, unknown people in balaclavas, helmets and truncheons broke a car window and arrested Vladimir Zaryankin, the Vitsebsk mayor’s elder son, an employee of the US Embassy in Minsk. Last week, Vitsebsk mayor’s younger son Filip was released from the Zhodzina detention centre.
9:44 am The biathlete Darya Domracheva commented on the situation in Belarus in a Facebook post. She didn’t say a word about the detention of her brother Nikita, who was beaten by the riot police two days ago.
SPORT.TUT.BY asked Darya whether Belarusian authorities contacted her or her brother on this issue, whether they were offered any help; her answer was: “No one has offered me any apology or any kind of explanation. As far as I know, Nikita heard nothing too.”
9:45 am The Golos (“Voice”) platform launched their project against the amendments to the Belarusian Constitution. This is the project founders’ way of interfering with the authorities’ plan and allowing Belarusians to express their true opinion on the constitutional reforms.
10:20 am “The EU’s strong and united position is of key importance in supporting Belarus whose society wants democratic changes,” Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau emphasized at Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council FAC meeting in Luxembourg.
The ministers took a political decision to start the preparation of a next sanctions package against the Belarusian authorities that would also cover Alexander Lukashenko.
10:22 am Ukraine joins the sanctions against Belarus imposed by the European Union, and will consider joining the new sanctions after they are introduced by the EU, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said.
10:25 am “It’s more peaceful here in the cell in Zhodzina.” Maria Kalesnikava was proposed to participate in the meeting with Alexander Lukashenko in the KGB pre-trial detention center, but she refused. Her lawyer Aliaksandr Pylchenko spoke about it on air at the Echo of Moscow radio.
10:38 am Maksim Znak’s defense demands the investigators to present the evidence of calls for action threatening national security. Defenders believe that they will be able to completely refute the charges and end the criminal prosecution.
10:40 am This morning, protesters are blocking the traffic in Independence Avenue near the National Library.
10:51 am Belarusian police will use combat weapons on the streets if needed, the Interior Ministry said on Monday, as the security forces clashed with the protesters again.
“The protests, which have shifted largely to Minsk, have become organized and extremely radical,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
“In this regard, the Interior Ministry’s employees and internal troops will not leave the streets and, if necessary, will use special equipment and military weapons,” it said.
10:59 am About 60 employees of media companies were detained or injured during the protests in Belarus since the beginning of August, the Belarusian Journalist Association chairman Vladimir Solovyov said to Interfax.
11:19 am The British Ambassador left Belarus.
The UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab earlier wrote on his Twitter: “UK condemns Belarus’ decision to expel Polish & Lithuanian diplomats. Completely unjustified and will only isolate the Belarusian people. In solidarity, we are temporarily recalling our Ambassador for consultations on the situation in Belarus.”
12:01 pm A flower shop owner Maksim Khoroshyn who was detained earlier today, was taken to a hospital in an ambulance from the police station.
Maksim and his wife Katya were brutally detained near their home. Their apartment and the flower shop were searched. During the search, Maksim was forced to lie face down into a puddle on the road.
His wife got released but Maksim was beaten so severely, that police had to call an ambulance.
12:10 pm Human rights lawyers report 108 people detained during 12 October in the cities and towns all over the country. At least 4 people had to be taken to the hospital from the police stations in ambulances. The total number of Belarusians detained during the protests against the falsified election has reached 14,443.
12:15 pm State media channels published more information about a 4.5-hour meeting held by Lukashenko with a small group of political prisoners in detention. Some events can be reconstructed from the clips that were broadcast:
- Political prisoners were taken to the KGB pre-trial detention center from different prisons.
- Kalesnikava refused to go.
- Not all political prisoners, including Tsikhanouski, shook hands with Lukashenko.
- Before the meeting, it was decided to release Voskresensky and Rabtsevich. This fact explains why they were placed to the left and right hand side from Lukashenko, Voskresensky was even dressed in a clean shirt.
- Small concessions were made to political prisoners. Shklyarou asked to have an opportunity to wash, and Tsikhanouski asked to call his wife for the first time. The meeting was not a negotiation, just an exchange of opinions.
- Political prisoners also used the meeting to exchange information with each other.
12:31 pm Lukashenko spoke to the director of the Tolochin canning plant, Anatoly Anyukhovsky. “If we had such people in Minsk, we would be the richest,” said Lukashenko. “These “mordovartsy” [thugs] walk around Minsk and they want to eat. They will be paid money, they will come and then at 5-6 pm they run to a cafe or restaurant to spend it.”
12:32 pm Solidarity actions have started in Minsk. Students of the Department of the Oriental Linguistic and Country Studies of Belarusian State University are standing in the solidarity chain.
12:35 pm On Sunday, a stun grenade was used during the peaceful demonstration near the Stella (Minsk Hero City Obelisk) in Minsk.
12:40 pm During the night Molotov cocktails were thrown into the courtyard of a Minsk police department, a UAZ police services vehicle briefly caught fire.
12:41 pm Solidarity event is supported by the people in Bogdanovich street, where the demonstrators have formed a solidarity chain.
12:58 pm A participant of a traditional protest rally has been detained at Minsk State Medical University.
1:25 pm A Belarus of the Brain Telegram channel has published an investigation into the Molotov cocktail incident:
“If you look at the plan of the police station from a satellite, you can see that the distance from where the bottle can be thrown in such a way is 27 meters. In addition, the bottle should be thrown high because it should go over another structure. If you follow the trajectory, you can see that it was thrown from the direction of the UAZ vehicle and not from over the fence, i.e. it was thrown within the police station territory.”
1:40 pm Sergei Dyleuski, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, is currently in Warsaw. He was forced to leave Belarus due to fears for his safety.
Two days ago it became known that he had allegedly resigned from Minsk Tractor Plant. However, according to him, he was blackmailed by the safety of his parents. Earlier, Dyleusky served 25 days in prison for taking part in “unauthorized actions.”
1:44 pm A 59-year-old lady who took part in the Pensioners’ March will be tried by court for participation in the march; the time and place of the hearing is not yet known.
1:56 pm Another solidarity chain is seen in Minsk.
2:05 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya announced the date of the People’s Ultimatum:
“The regime has 13 days to fulfill three mandatory requirements:
- Lukashenka must announce his resignation.
- Street violence must stop completely.
- All political prisoners must be released.
If our demands are not met by 25 October, the whole country will peacefully take to the streets with the People’s Ultimatum. And on 26 October, a national strike of all enterprises will begin, all roads will be blocked, sales in state stores will collapse.”
2:35 pm Arts Academy students took part in the solidarity action in Minsk. The head of the Fine Arts Department had a “educational talk” with the students right in the middle of the rally.
2:36 pm 186 people were detained during yesterday’s protests, as reported by the Interior Ministry.
2:42 pm Students from Belarusian State University and Belarusian State Economic University took part in the solidarity protests today.
2:42 pm Vladimir Shipillo, an employee of the History Institute, part of the National Academy of Science of Belarus, has been detained for his participation in the rally.
2:45 pm People took to the streets in Gomel.
2:48 pm Students of the Journalism Department and the Philosophy and Social Science Department of Belarusian State University are taking part in the solidarity action.
2:52 pm Staff of the National Academy of Science of Belarus once again initiated a sitting protest, one of the participants was detained.
2:58 pm EU High Representative for International Affairs Josep Borrell held a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Among other things, the political crisis in Belarus was also discussed. The conversation took place at the EU initiative.
3:24 pm Students of the Biology Department of Belarusian State University took part in a singing solidarity event in support of the pensioners.
3:29 pm 186 people were detained yesterday, according to the information published by the Interior Ministry.
3:48 pm The Prosecutor’s General Office has announced that Tsikhanouskaya’s Ultimatum may be given a legal assessment, however, it is not clear what exactly has been implied by such a statement.
4:11 pm The basketball player Alena Levchenko will remain under arrest as her appeal has been dismissed by the court.
4:16 pm Pavel Batuev, a Salihorsk activist, has been released after 10 days of arrest.
4:25 pm State propaganda channels broadcast their first reaction to the Ultimatum put forward by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
4:35 pm Babaryka commented on his meeting with Lukashenko at the KGB detention center: “It was not a dialogue, nothing was agreed during the meeting.”
4:36 pm US State Secretary made an appeal to the Belarusian authorities to allow the Metropolitan Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to return back to Belarus.
4:49 pm “Golos” platform has launched a new project against the Constitution amendments.
According to “Golos” team, only the civil society has legal grounds to carry out any reforms today.
4:52 pm People in Berlin continued to visit Belorusian Embassy in the support of Belorusians.
4:55 pm A general women’s march is planned for 1 pm on 17 October in Minsk.
5:55 pm Following the publication of the People’s Ultimatum by the ex-presidential candidate on the Telegram channel, RIA Novosti reports that the Investigative Committee have procedural instruments to assess the legality of such appeals.
“The Investigative Committee has access to everything published in the public domain,” said Yulia Goncharova, an official representative of the Investigative Committee. “The Telegram channel where the information was published is not deemed an official media outlet. It also should be verified how reliable the information is.”
5:57 pm Svetlana Khatalskaya, an activist and the Coordination Council member, has been sentenced to 15 days in prison by the Moskovsky district court of Minsk.
6:02 pm Belarusian protesters are starting to disrupt railway services.
According to @belzhd_live Telegram channel, someone connected rails on the Mikhanovichi-Rudensk and Olekhnovichi-Usha sections in the Minsk region with a wire, which is why the Belarusian Railways detection systems mistakenly considered that the section was occupied by a train.
6:31 pm The National Bank has extended restrictions on bank loans.
According to TUT.BY, there will be no short term loans for banks (so-called ‘overnight loans’) until at least 19 January. The restrictions were first introduced in late August in order to support the Belarusian ruble. It was supposed to last for 3 weeks, but then was extended until 13 October, and now for two more months. Facing a shortage of credit resources, banks will have to resort to more expensive refinancing methods, which will further complicate their situation.
A number of major Belarusian banks have already limited the issuance of loans to individuals and businesses. According to financial experts, this will worsen the already deplorable state of the Belarusian economy.
7:00 pm Belarusians are once again receiving text messages from the Internal Ministry. This time they mention the most severe punishment for deliberate destruction or damage to property – 12 years in prison (according to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus).
7:33 pm Two more defendants in the PandaDoc case have been released: the chief accountant Yulia Shardyka and Vladislav Mikholap, HR. One employee remains in custody.
7:37 pm TUT.BY has published a photo taken by one of their readers at the Perviy Tsvetnoi flower shop, where a huge queue has formed. People are expressing their support for the owner Maxim Khoroshyn, who was detained this morning and later taken to a hospital from the district police office.
8:35 pm All over Minsk, people are forming solidarity change and blocking roads in some spots. There have been sporadic arrests.
8:46 pm Svetlana Gatalskaya, a key member of the Coordination Council, coordinator of the Council’s fem-group and an activist of the movement “March, baby”, was arrested for 15 days, as announced by the Council’s press service.
On 12 October, Olga Shparaga and Yulia Mitskevich, co-organizers of the fem-group of the Council, were sentenced to the same punishment for participating in an unsanctioned mass event.
8:57 pm A court in Brest sent back for revision the administrative case against ICU doctor Timur Lozko, his wife Olga told BelaPAN.
The couple got detained on 11 October. There were no ongoing protests in the street where they were walking at the time.
“Unfortunately, the police continue to detain people for arbitrary reasons. And the worst thing is that no one is safe, not even doctors”, human rights activist Roman Kislyak said about this situation.
9:09 pm The authorities are trying to convince citizens that the peaceful protesters are radicalizing. They also threatened to use military weapons. Naviny.by has published an article on why it is so important to keep the protests peaceful and not respond to provocations.
The Interior Ministry is threatening Belarusians with military weapons
The police and military will use both non-lethal and lethal weapons, if need arises, stated deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gennady Kazakevich.
The Interior Ministry is talking about arson and Molotov cocktails
Kazakevich’s statement was published in the afternoon on 12 October, and the very next day the press service of the Interior Ministry reported on a number of incidents, which, apparently, should illustrate the radicalization of the protests.
For example, the press service announced that on the night of 13 October, three Molotov cocktails were thrown into the territory of the Sovetsky District Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk. One of them fell near a service bus. The fire was brought down with a fire extinguisher by an employee who ran out of the police department. The vehicle suffered minor cosmetic damage.
Can they start shooting to kill?
According to human rights activist Harry Pogonyailo, threats to use military weapons are nothing but an attempt to intimidate the protesters. In a comment for Naviny.by, he emphasized that law enforcement officers can use live rounds in exceptional cases, such as when posed with a real threat to their life, or when a delay in the use of weapons will create an immediate danger to the lives of citizens or may entail other grave consequences.
The authorities are trying to provoke people
Now the authorities are provoking people to take more radical steps to justify the violence used against them, said Garry Pogonyailo:
“They illegally use force against the detainees, which may cause people to take revenge. Then, someone can really set fire to a police building. Please note that this is a type of revenge that does not seek to cause casualties. Such illegal actions are a response to the use of violence against those who take to the streets to protest. However, there is no guerilla war of mutual destruction in Belarus.”
The human rights activist stressed that this situation is a consequence of “the lack of opportunities for dialogue when instead only force is used.”
The authorities push for radicalization of the protests
According to psychologist Lilia Akhremchik, statements by government officials that the protesters are ready to use violence, which is already manifested in an attack on state institutions, pursue several goals and are aimed at several social groups at once.
The main target audience is the protesters, and the goal is to shake them up, to induce a real manifestation of violence.
9:32 pm On Monday, 12 October, a private concert in support of independent media was held in Minsk. J:Mors, Polina Respublika, INTELLIGENCY, Pavel Arakelyan, Nizkiz performed at the event, which took place at the Stand Up Comedy Hall.