Bitter Winter in Belarus

Bitter Winter in Belarus

http://www.fidh.org/Bitter-Winter-in-Belarus

The FIDH 7-minute video Bitter Winter in Belarus denounces the violent repression exercised by the Belarus authorities against all the dissident voices that have protested against the rigging of the December 19, 2010 presidential elections.

Following the announcement of the election results, about 700 persons demonstrating peacefully in the centre of Minsk to denounce electoral fraud were arrested and sent to prison; many of them were severely beaten. Among them were seven opposition candidates, along with political activists, independent journalists and human rights defenders. Some of the activists received arbitrary prison sentences, while others had their offices raided and ravaged repeatedly by the security forces, without access to fair means of defence; all were subjected to threats on the part of the regime. President Lukashenko himself declared, the day after the election results were announced: “Let’s finish the job! There shall be no more senseless democracy in the country! […] They shall all go to prison, in accordance with the law.”

Today the repression continues. Two former presidential candidates, Andrei Sannikov and Vladzimir Niaklayev are still in detention and under house arrest, respectively. Several lawyers of the detained activists have had their licences withdrawn. The two independent newspapers “Nasha Niva” and “Narodnaya Volia” risk being banned shortly. Six journalists have been accused of having participated in “massive disturbances of the peace,” and one of their colleagues has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. And the human rights defenders are more than ever targeted by the regime, and are interrogated, searched and subjected to smear campaigns broadcast all day long on the public channels.(1)

The FIDH web documentary shows damning testimonies of a society stifled by a regime that is trying at all costs to suppress all independent voices.

The web documentary is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHWvuXFvdyE

FIDH will shortly issue a detailed report on the repression.

Press contacts:
Karine Appy: +33 1 43 55 14 12 / +33 6 48 05 91 57
Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28 42 94

(1)  See the urgent appeals of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT), May 15, 2011 http://www.fidh.org/Expulsion-of-Ms-Victoria-Gromova-and-Mr-Alexander and April 20, 2011: http://www.fidh.org/Human-rights-defender-from-Ukraine-was-denied and the press release of May 4, 2011 : http://www.fidh.org/Belarusian-President-and-national-TV-journalists

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Belarus ‘Accepts’ $3Bln Loan
The Moscow Times
18 May 2011
By Anatoly Medetsky

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Tuesday that Belarus appeared to have accepted the terms of a $3 billion loan offered by a Russia-led group of former Soviet republics to save the teetering Belarussian economy from a disastrous collapse.

He was reacting to news reports that quoted Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko as saying, after a telephone conversation with President Dmitry Medvedev, that the loan was a done deal.

“We believe it means the terms of the loan have been accepted,” Kudrin told reporters at an unplanned briefing after a regular Presidium session.

Russia, the biggest donor of the Eurasian Economic Community’s anti-crisis fund, has insisted that Belarus privatize $3 billion worth of its enterprises this year and draw foreign direct investment as conditions for the fund’s loan, Kudrin said Tuesday. He didn’t specify the required amount of investment.

Lukashenko is widely believed to seek divisions in Russia’s ruling tandem of Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in order to gain concessions — a tactic that has borne little fruit so far. Putin is expected to raise the loan issue during his visit to Minsk on Thursday.

“I hope we will be able to clarify the details there,” Kudrin said.

Divided into $1 billion tranches over three years, the planned loan is to help Belarus strengthen state finances after its national currency suffered a sharp devaluation in recent weeks.

Russia has long sought a way for its companies to buy stakes of Belarussian companies, such as its refineries.

Belarus is servicing its debt to Russia, which amounts to another $3 billion over the past four years, Kudrin said.

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Filed under activism, film and video, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression

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