31 October 2020 | BYHelp-Mediagroup, Infocenter Free Belarus 2020
The World Congress of Belarusians 2020
The online congress was attended by representatives of Belarusian diasporas from all over the world, as well as by many well-known Belarusian figures in the fields of politics, economics and culture. Many of them are now in exile due to their beliefs. The congress lasted 26 hours in a row. More than 100 speakers from around the globe spoke in 43 sessions on the most pressing issues of the development and democratization of Belarus.
In Belarus, members of parliament intend to toughen punishment under Article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offenses for participation in unauthorized mass events
Over the past two months, more than 15,000 Belarusians have been subjected to persecution under Article 23.34, also known as “the people’s Article”, for “participation in unauthorized mass events and disobeying the demands of law enforcement agencies”. Now, members of parliament are considering the possibility of increasing the imprisonment term from 15 to 30 days, and the maximum fine from 30 to 200 basic units – the equivalent of 2,700 rubles (almost 1,000 euros) today, which corresponds to 5.5 months’ worth of average salary in the republic.
In addition, there are plans to introduce punishment for the use of unregistered flags (that is, for the use of the Belarusian national white-red-white flag, which A. Lukashenko called “fascist” in his speech to representatives of government security forces a day before).
Two rallies against dictatorship united in Minsk
There was a women’s rally against violence in Minsk today. During the march, it united with the rally of people with disabilities. As a result, several thousand people once again expressed their position against dictatorship and violence. The march was relatively calm, but at least two women were detained near Horky Park.
Belarus closes its borders to foreigners from 1 November. The official reason: COVID
According to the State Border Committee, the resolution was issued by the Council of Ministers of the republic. According to this decree, Belarus temporarily suspends border crossing for entry for foreign citizens and stateless persons. This restriction applies to entry by cars and trains, but not to entry via Minsk National Airport. Russian Federation citizens are exempt if they are traveling to the Russian Federation through the territory of Belarus.
A rally in support of the strikers at Hrodna Azot was dispersed in Hrodna
Today, a rally was supposed to take place in Hrodna in support of striking Hrodna Azot workers, who have declared a strike since 26 October – after the end of the “people’s ultimatum” by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After 150-200 people started to march towards Hrodna Azot, the police began to arrest them. People dispersed through the yards, where the security forces began to catch them.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya supported the Hrodna Azot workers
“In the spring, Belarusians across the country collected help for doctors so they could save Belarusians. Now, the people are ready to help you, dear Hrodna Azot, because your feat helps us to get closer to the new Belarus. In this country, no one will think that a professional can be replaced by any passer-by. In this country, no one will blackmail you with contracts. In this country, no one will call you impostors for expressing your opinion.
“We all know who the real impostors in Belarus are. They pretend that there is no strike. But they are afraid of it, afraid of your strength – and therefore, they intimidate you. Remember: the truth is on your side. The people of Belarus, solidarity foundations and I are on your side. Thanks to your courage, more and more people go on strikes at other factories and enterprises, go on marches, and support each other. No one will leave you in trouble because for all of us, the Hrodna Azot workers are heroes who, with their every act, hasten our long-awaited common victory.”
Good morning, the 84th day of the protests begins.
8:39 am The World Congress of Belarusians has started today. This is a 24-hour online meeting of Belarusians from different parts of the world, where they meet and discuss the future of the country. More than 5 thousand Belarusians from 40 countries of the world take part in the congress. Anyone can join the congress at any time.
8:55 am Minsk. The staff of Minsk CHPP-4 expressed their solidarity with everyone who opposes lies and violence from the authorities.
“We cannot stand aside, more than 50 people have already left the pro-government trade union that supports the bloody regime, and every day our numbers are growing. We want to support students, the future of our nation, art and culture workers, the beauty of our nation, we want to support teachers, athletes, workers and all those who are not indifferent to what is happening today in our country! Grodno-Azot, BelAZ, METZ, MZKT, MAZ, MTZ, Belaruskali, factory workers! Together! We are the Power, We will win!”
9:00 am Hrodna. A march in support of “Grodno Azot” will be held today in Hrodna. For this reason, Hrodna declared itself an area welcoming protest tourism and invites people from all over the country who want to support the march.
The march will begin at 3 pm around the bus station area and will end at the protest plant.
09:01 am Salihorsk. A white-red-white flag was raised at the salt dump unit SOF 1 of “Belaruskali” OJSC.
09:03 am Minsk. Following the expulsion of students, as well as the dismissal and arrest of the teacher Natalya Dulina, three more teachers left the Minsk State Linguistic University. They are professor Elena Lukashanets, teachers Yulia Belobrudova and Yulia Vorobei. Other employees of the linguistic university also want to quit.
9:07 am Minsk. The action of solidarity among Belarus Hi-Tech Park staff began.
9:07 am Minsk. Someone again “corrected” the mural on the Square of Changes in Minsk. Unknown persons put the inscription “Traitors and policemen live here”, “Batska [dad], forgive us” on the mural.
9:12 am Belarusian students who study in Poland are stuck at the border. They were not allowed to return to their homeland.
The State Border Committee notes that in this situation not everything is so simple, and they claim that the problem is that students allegedly cannot go through 10-day self-isolation in Belarus, since they must return to Poland in the near future.
Students, however, insist that they are not even asked the question of self-isolation, but are simply turned back to Poland. During the night, they made at least three attempts to cross the border.
9:35 am Minsk. During the “negotiations” in the KGB pre-trial detention center with political prisoners, Lukashenko promised not to participate in new elections, to carry out reforms in two years and adopt a new Constitution that would limit the presidency to two terms, Lilia Vlasova told Dozhd news channel.
9:42 am Minsk. Minsk residents published their appeal to the plants and factories workers on the Internet.
“Factories are the foundation of the country. Workers are a great force! You should start with yourself! Resign and they will follow you. It is difficult to take the first step, but it is important to take this step. All Belarus is with you!”
9:43 am In addition to the Hrodna march in support of the “Grodno Azot” workers today, there’s a Student protest, a March of people with unlimited capabilities and a Women’s March of Solidarity.
10:02 am In Belarus, the authorities are planning to toughen the punishment under par. 23.34 of the Administrative Offences Code (almost everyone is punished under this article at present). People can be fined up to 200 basic units and imprisonment sentences can reach up to 30 days.
It is also proposed to toughen the liability under the article “Disobedience to a lawful order or demand of an official in the exercise of his official powers”, which is also often used in connection with the dispersal of protest actions. A penalty used now is a fine from 2 to 50 basic units or administrative detention (up to 15 days). However, if the changes are adopted, the fine can be increased to 100 basic units.
An innovation is planned to be introduced in the administrative legislation – an article “Illegal use of flags, pennants, emblems, production, distribution of posters, emblems and symbols.”
It has been proposed to impose the following penalty under this article: a fine from 5 to 20 basic units, from 10 to 40 basic units for an individual entrepreneur, and from 20 to 60 basic units on a legal entity.
10:09 am Mozyr. Detentions continue at the Mozyr Oil Refinery. It became known about the detention of the economist of the social development department, Nikolai Zhlobo, and the equipment technician at workshop No. 12, Tatiana Kozlovich. Both people have been placed in custody in the pre-trial detention centre, pending trial on 2 November.
10:15 am Minsk. In the Kamennaya Gorka residential district, motorists are gathering for the pro-government rally “For a United Belarus”. Lukashenko’s supporters will go to Lida and then to Hrodna.
10:23 am Minsk. Education Minister Igor Karpenko arrived at BNTU.
10:24 am Minsk. According to volunteers, 41 people have been detained in the capital over the past 24 hours.
10:25 am Minsk. It was decided to combine protests and Halloween in the district near the Tractor Plant. As a result, the pumpkins have joined the people in their protest and it turned out cool!
10:28 am Minsk. In the Kamennaya Gorka district, people have created an unusual chain of solidarity with the protesting plants and factories. Cardboard figures have been assembled along the road, each displaying names of plants and factories and white-red-white symbols.
10:50 am According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, 8 independent journalists remain in custody as of 31 October.
10:50 am Zhlobin. Another BMZ OJSC worker, a mechanic-repairman, Dmitry Duborenko, has joined the strike until the demands of the People’s Ultimatum are fulfilled. Two of his colleagues, who had previously gone on strike, were fired. “They failed to perform their employment duties,” allegedly stated in the dismissal order.
10:53 am Pavel Latushko, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, believes that it is necessary to suspend the participation of Belarus in the Bologna Process due to events in the Belarusain Universities.
11:23 am Former presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke at the World Congress of Belarusians. She noted that the events in Belarus (expulsion of students, dismissals of teachers and workers arrests) testify that the current authorities are in a state of panic.
“They are scared of our perseverance, they are at a loss, they cannot understand why we haven’t yet stopped and continue to go out to peaceful protest,” Tsikhanouskaya stressed.
The ex-candidate also expressed confidence that the Congress will help find solutions to overcome the crisis, “which has been inflicted upon the country by the current regime.”
“Even the government elite does not feel safe.”
The famous Belarusian musician Lyavon Volsky gave a long interview, in which he shared his news and thoughts about the future of Belarus. Among other things, he said that there is simply no more pro-Russian politician in Belarus than Lukashenko.
11:30 am The Coordination Council commented on a “new idea” proposed by the authorities officials.
“The tightening of par. 23.34 [of the Administrative Offences Code], following its illegal application against over 15 thousand people, is another way of putting pressure on peaceful Belarusians.
Do not forget that an attempt to toughen the Administrative Code is a signal that only a stick is left for the current government to use against its people.”
11:40 am New details have emerged on the detention of anarchists at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border on the night of 28-29 October.
It is known that both Igor Olinevich and Dmitry Rozanovich were detained. They are currently held in the KGB pre-trial detention and accused under two articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus – terrorism and illegal arms trafficking.
11:42 am Minsk. The propagandists are already waiting for the start of the Women’s March. Two cars from the state ONT TV channel have been seen near the Belarus cinema, where women are planning to gather.
11:43 am Brest. An audio recording of a conversation between the internal affairs officer and Year 11 students of one of the Brest schools has been published on the Internet.
The conversation was conducted in private without the presence of teachers, and contains a large amount of swearing and abusive language and threats to students, who “apparently weren’t beaten enough in August”.
12:00 pm Two students were detained near the MSLU. The reason for the detention is unknown.
12:20 pm A 16-year-old schoolboy was detained in Brest on charges of “mass riots”.
12:35 pm A resident of Mogilev, Vasily Saltanovich, received a total of 33 days of detention for participating in three protests, but after the appeal, the term was reduced to 20 days. An unprecedented case for Belarus.
12:46 pm MSLU students bring flowers and candles to the building of their faculty as a sign of solidarity with expelled students and dismissed teachers. Natalya Dulina, an Italian language teacher who had worked at the university for about 30 years, supported the strike and was fired the day before yesterday. Now she is at Akrescina detention center, awaiting trial for participating in the protest action.
12:57 pm Belarusian border guards do not allow Belarusian students who are currently studying in other countries to enter Belarus; they cannot clearly explain the reason for this ban.
1:21 pm The administrator of the “Drivers 97%” Telegram chat was detained. The resource is going to be recognized as “extremist”. Also, five active participants of the chat were detained and searched.
1:27 pm People with disabilities gathered for a protest near the Red Church in Minsk.
1:30 pm The traditional Women’s March has begun in Minsk. Several hundred participants began the procession. They chant: “Fair elections!”
1:31 pm Four journalists resigned from Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus: deputy editor-in-chief Inna Kochetkova, and journalists Olga Ivashenko, Evika Otto and Yulia Voytsitskaya. Perhaps the reason for this is the replacement of the editor-in-chief of the publication – the odious Russian journalist Alexander Kots may become the new boss. Komsomolskaya Pravda was one of the few newspapers that covered the situation in Belarus after the elections in detail and openly, which caused problems with the newspaper’s distribution and a sharp fall in its circulation.
1:47 pm The famous Russian sinologist Nikolai Vavilov said that China has replaced its ambassador to Belarus. Xie Xiaoyong was appointed to replace Cui Qiming. The analyst believes that the replacement of the ambassador indicates a change in China’s attitude towards the Belarusian leadership. General investment projects may be revised or frozen. China is one of the main allies of the Belarusian dictator, and any change in his policy can affect the country’s economy.
2:06 pm In Lida, due to a rally in support of Alexander Lukashenko, the city center was closed. The townspeople are outraged.
2:10 pm On Independence Square in Minsk, the Women’s March has united with the march of people with disabilities. Passing by the KGB building, the participants of the march were chanting: “Let people go.”
2:16 pm BMZ worker Dmitry Dubarenka became the third employee of the plant to join the strike.
2:30 pm “This is just the beginning, we will not be silent!” BMZ workers recorded a powerful video about the strikes and the situation in the country.
2:35 pm “The fear among Belarusians has already grown into a determination to press on towards victory. While the hierarchy of power is being destroyed, we unite and become stronger,” says Tsikhanouskaya, in a recorded video message.
2:46 pm Ex-political prisoner and anarchist Igor Olinevich is charged with arson in Soligorsk and Mozyr. The punishment under the article “terrorism” in Belarusian legislation also includes the death penalty. Three more people were detained with him.
2:50 pm Workers from other factories will be sent to the striking “Hrodna-Azot”. The first group of 40 people is already prepared to go to Hrodna. The CEO says there is no strike at the plant. How this is connected with the arrival of workers from other factories is not clear. Is the director lying?
2:53 pm A large column of protesters is walking towards Victory Square in Minsk.
2:56 pm During the Women’s March, the traffic police stopped a car whose driver was supporting the protesters. People began to collect money for his fine on the spot, but the man refused to take it.
2:59 pm In Hrodna, a prisoner transport vehicle and a water cannon are standing near the bus station – from here, the action in support of the striking workers of “Hrodna-Azot” is to begin.
3:03 pm The Belarusian-Ukrainian border checkpoint at Novaya Guta had problems with the computer database for three hours – no one could pass through. The border guards confirmed this information.
3:29 pm Detentions have started at the march in Minsk – security officials took two girls to a bus at the Gorky Park entrance. Sovetskaya Belarus photojournalist Vitaly Pivovarchik was detained at the march as well.
3:30 pm About 100-150 people have gathered at the Hrodna bus station. They simply stand there without flags, placards, or chanting. Police come over and talk to them. Prisoner transporters and armored vehicles have been brought to the station; one of them has loudspeakers playing “Alesya” and “Listen to Papa” (songs used at pro-government rallies – Ed.) as well as calls to end the unauthorized event. The planned march in support of Hrodna-Azot workers has not started yet.
3:35 pm Detentions are reported to have taken place also on Victory Square.
3:40 pm The column of protesters has reached Yakub Kolas Square. The protesters are dispersing quietly. The “Women’s Démarche” is taking place in the city center.
3:45 pm About 200 Hrodna residents are moving towards the Hrodna-Azot factory in a lengthy column. Passing cars support them, honking in solidarity. So far there have been no detentions, although there are many police cars and buses still patrolling around the bus station.
4:05 pm Detentions have started in Hrodna.
4:25 pm Viasna Human Rights Centre reports that at least 6 people have been detained today at this hour.
4:40 pm Several minibusses without license plates with unknown individuals have arrived at the house on Dzerzhinsky Avenue where a white-red-white flag had been hung several times earlier. According to @radiosvaboda readers, the house roof is now fenced with barbed wire.
4:52 pm Lukashenko’s supporters are holding a rally in Minsk. A small column gathered on Independence Square and walked over to Oktyabrskaya Square.
5:00 pm Foreigners will be temporarily forbidden from entering Belarus from 1 November. The official reason: “due to COVID-19”. All borders on land will be closed; air traffic continues to work for the time being.
5:05 pm Hrodna police confirmed that detentions took place during today’s march in support of Hrodna-Azot workers. Detainees are currently under administrative arrest.
5:10 pm The Nasha Niva website will no longer allow commenting under their articles from 1 November. According to them, this decision was made because “the events of the last few months, interpreted by many lawyers as a violation of the law, put both commentators and editors in a certain danger”, and officials might treat any sharper comment as a “threat to national security”, which can result in sanctions.
5:15 pm Nina Bahinskaya was seen today again at the Women’s March.
6:00 pm The State Border Committee reported that from 1 November, Belarus temporarily suspends border crossing for entry for foreign citizens and stateless persons. The restriction will apply at all border crossings, except for Minsk National Airport.
6:04 pm Belarus has lost the right to host the European Athletics Team Championship in 2021, Polish Athletic Association reports.
6:10 pm The telegram channel of the strike committee of JSC “Belaruskali” reports that protest graffiti has appeared in the mines of Salihorsk.
6:36 pm Police detained three defenders of Kurapaty memorial near the “Poedem Poedim” restaurant. As Tatsiana Shaputska reported on Facebook, Anna and Viktar Shaputskau, as well as Ryhor Asaula, were detained at the Kurapaty guard. “They said it was for a white-red-white flag. It is still unclear where the police have taken them.”
Protest action against the construction and work in the protected zone of Kurapaty of the restaurant “Poedem Poedim” has been held since June 2018. The actions take place in the form of a guard with white-red-white flags.
7:23 pm A member of the Coordination Council Presidium, lawyer Maxim Znak, who is in custody, does not work on a new Constitution in the pre-trial detention center. This was stated by his lawyer Dmitry Laeusky, commenting on Lilia Vlasava’s words.
On 30 October, a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council Lilia Vlasova, who has been recently released from custody, spoke about Lukashenka’s meeting with political prisoners in the KGB pre-trial detention center on the “Dozhd” news channel. During her interview, she stated that Maxim Znak had written a draft of a new Constitution.
7:28 pm The human rights center “Viasna” reports that today, during the Saturday actions, at least 17 people were detained.
7:35 pm A group of BMZ workers spoke out against political arrests. They recorded a video in which they expressed solidarity with all the strikers.
7:40 pm Singer Viktar Kalina, who previously advocated for the “Russian world” and was an active supporter of Lukashenka, now says under the white-red-white flag that he plans to go into politics and create a party to unite Belarus, Russia and Ukraine into a commonwealth of sovereign states.
7:45 pm Today in Hrodna, the police detained the girl who went to the protest in a white-red-white wedding dress, TUT.BY reports.
On Saturday, 31 October, Inna Zaitsava went to Hrodna from Minsk to express support to those workers of the “Hrodna-Azot” enterprise who are taking part in the strike.
8:31 pm All Vlad Lunevich’s projects (Depo, Lauka, Enzo, Simple, Underdog, Let it be) will be closed from tomorrow “until violations are eliminated.” Reasons: the absence of a separate mop for a refrigerator compartment, absence of eye drops in the first aid kit, lack of a separate antiseptic measure.
8:48 pm Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya supported the workers of the “Hrodna-Azot” enterprise.
“Remember: the truth is on your side. The people of Belarus, solidarity funds and I are on your side. Thanks to your courage, more and more people go on strike at other factories and enterprises, go out on marches, and support each other. No one will leave you in hardship, because for all of us the workers of “Hrodna-Azot” are heroes who, with their every act, accelerate our long-awaited common victory.”
9:34 pm In Mahilou, a young man with a white-red-white flag threatened to jump off a bridge. He was removed and pulled into a minibus.
9:43 pm In Kobryn, they painted a giant horseman from the coat of arms “Pagonya” with fire.
10:30 pm Tonight, Belarusians organize yard concerts and spend time together. In many courtyards, the theme of today’s parties is Halloween.
11:00 pm The March against the terror “We won’t forget, we won’t forgive!” is planned in Minsk tomorrow on 1 November at 2 pm.