Belarusians came out to participate in the first protests of 2021; the head of the Catholic Church, who had been in exile for four months, resigned; Voskresensky became active again
3 January 2021 | BYHelp-Mediagroup
Belarusians came out to participate in the first marches of 2021
On the first Sunday of 2021, routine marches of neighbors were held in the courtyards of Minsk and other cities. Dozens of photos and videos have appeared on Telegram channels and in the media. The protests were held not only by residents of various districts of Minsk, but also by residents of the neighboring villages of Barauliany and Sokal, as well as in cities of Dziarzhynsk, Mahiliou and Baranavichy.
Human rights activists reported four more detainees.
The head of the Catholic Church of Belarus, Tadeusz Kandrusewicz, who had spent four months in exile, resigned
On 3 January Tadeusz Kandrusewicz, the Archbishop of Minsk and Mahiliou, celebrated his 75th birthday. Kandrusewicz had submitted his resignation even before returning to his homeland. According to the Catholic Church rules, a resignation letter addressed to the Pope must be submitted by bishops who reach 75 years of age. On 3 January Pope Francis dismissed Kandrusewicz from his post. “This is the reality and we cannot escape it,” commented the former archbishop of Belarus.
On 31 August the border guards refused to let Archbishop Kandrusewicz in from Poland back to Belarus without any explanation. Later, the authorities stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had declared Kandrusewicz’s passport invalid.
Alexander Lukashenko accused Kandrusewicz of traveling to Poland to receive directions on “how to destroy Belarus.” Before that, Kandrusewicz had condemned the violence against peaceful demonstrators and called for an end to what was going on.
Tadeusz Kandrusewicz was able to return to Belarus only on December 24 after four months of exile. His return became possible after the intervention of the Vatican, when the papal envoy and a former nuncio in Belarus, Claudio Gugerotti, had met with Alexander Lukashenko.
Bishop Kazimir Vialikaselets, who is also 75 years old, has been temporarily appointed to lead the archdiocese since 3 January. The general vicar of the Pinsk diocese, Vialikaselets, in addition to the pastoral ministry, has been engaged in the restoration and repair of shrines. In total, he has opened or renewed about ten parishes.
Voskresensky will promote political amnesty at the “All Belarusian People’s Assembly”
Yury Voskresensky said that he was going to promote the idea of political amnesty at the “All Belarusian People’s Assembly.” “I think that these guys [political prisoners], our society as well as the supporters of change, who have become the minority, would have appreciated this kind of step taken by the authorities.”
Voskresensky considers himself a former employee of Viktar Babaryka’s election team. Through his lawyers, Babaryka conveyed from the pre-trial detention center that “Mr. Voskresensky has not been a member of the election team, has not belonged to the circle of decision-makers and has never received any instructions. Therefore, he is not an authorized representative.”
Voskresensky, a participant in the election campaign of Viktar Babaryka as a coordinator of the signatures’ collection in the Pershamaiski district of Minsk, had spent two months in an isolation ward after being charged with participation in mass riots. However, he was released on 11 October, exactly one day after his meeting with Alexander Lukashenko in the KGB pre-trial detention center. Voskresensky himself stated that he had been instructed to develop a draft of a new version of the Constitution and assist the release of other political prisoners. He also announced that a new institution, namely “Round Table of Democratic Forces,” had been created and officially registered. Voskresensky had also assumed the role of a negotiator between the authorities and the opposition. In particular, he stated that such powers had been given to him by the Coordination Council. At the same time, the Coordination Council immediately denied any connection to Voskresensky. But the registered institution “Round Table of Democratic Forces” by “a strange coincidence” settled exactly at the same address where the headquarters of Viktar Babaryka had previously been located.
After his release Voskresensky has constantly appeared on state television channels and has often been mentioned in the pro-government media.
For more information on the events of 3 January 2021, please visit Infocenter Free Belarus 2020: