|06MINSK323||2006-03-23 15:56:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Minsk|
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000323
1. Summary: From March 21 to March 23, human rights activists and
independent press reported that more people have been arrested and
several dozens have already been sentenced for participating in
demonstrations following the March 19 presidential elections.
Anatoly Lebedko, deputy to Milinkevich and leader of the United
Civic Party received 15 days in jail, while his deputy Aleksandr
Dobrovolsky was sentenced to nine days. Former presidential
candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich's deputy campaign manager Aleksandr
Koneyenko was severely beaten by two unknown men on March 23 as he
left his home. Approximately 60 Belarusians were detained trying
to bring supplies to those who were already in jail for
participating in unsanctioned demonstrations, while 12
demonstrators in Vitebsk were arrested and sentenced to jail for
conducting a protest. Similarly, foreign nationals, including a
member of the Polish Sjem, have been detained, tried and/or
deported. End summary.
10-15 Days in Jail for Participating in a Demonstration
2. Independent media source Belapan reported that dozens of
activists who were arrested on the night between March 20 and March
21 for participating in the demonstrations on October Square stood
trial on March 22. The overwhelming majority of the activists
received prison sentences of 10-15 days under the Administrative
Code. According to human rights activist Tatiana Ravyaka, United
Civic Party Leader Anatoly Lebedko was jailed for 15 days for
participating in an unsanctioned meeting (ref B). [Note: Lebedko
is still waiting for sentencing on his previous hooliganism
charge.] Ravyaka also reported that UCP deputy Anatoly Dobrovolsky
received nine days in jail, while Belarusian Popular Front leader
Aleksei Yanukevich was jailed for 12 days, and former Belarusian
State Economic University student Tatiana Khoma was sentenced to 10
days for participating in an unsanctioned meeting (ref B). Ravyaka
noted that the court could not try all the cases on March 22, and
the detainees whose cases were still pending remained overnight at
the Okrestina detention center. Human rights activist Valentin
Stefanovich said that reporters, relatives and lawyers were not
allowed to attend the trials in the House of Justice.
3. Belapan reported that on March 22, Sovetskiy District Court
Judge Alyona Kraichyk sentenced editor-in-chief of the independent
newspaper "Nasha Niva" to 10 days in jail for petty hooliganism
when he allegedly refused to stop uttering obscenities after being
warned several times by police. Dynko was carrying food to the
protesters when he was arrested. On the same day, independent
newspaper "Belorussy i Rynok" journalist Vadim Aleksandrovich was
sentenced to 10 days in jail for taking part in an unauthorized
rally. On March 21, Belapan also reported that journalist Olga
Demchenko was fined BYR 620,000 [USD 290].
4. Legal expert and human rights activist Vladimir Labkovich told
Poloff on March 21 that police arrested approximately 60 people who
were bringing food and warm clothes to those detained in prison.
The 60 people were brought to the courthouse en masse on buses to
stand trial later on March 21.
Several Dozens More Detained, Beaten, and Arrested
5. On March 23, Milinkevich's deputy campaign manager Viktor
Korneyenko told journalists he was severely beaten as he left his
home that morning. Two unknown men approached him outside his
home, started to beat him in the head with a stick and then
proceeded to kick Korneyenko once he fell to the ground.
Korneyenko is convinced the attack is related to his participation
in the opposition protst on October Square.
6. Belapan reported thatmore than 100 people were arrested from
March 20to March 21 and about 50 people were arrested thefollowing night as they were leaving October Squar. Conservative
Christian Party secretary Ales Cekholsky said that many of those
who were arrestd were severely beaten, including Mikhail Avdeyev
who was allegedly attacked by a policeman as he enered the subway
station. Separately on March 22 RFE/RL reported that police
detained and beat Otober Square demonstrator Mikhail Audzeyeu
whilehe was trying to get home to change his clothes.
7. Independent media also reported that deputy Okyarbsky district
police chief arrested 12 demonsrators on March 21 in Vitebsk - and
allegedly usd force on four of them - 15 minutes after the stat
of a rally. Among those detained were Milinkevich regional
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headquarters leader Khristofer Zhelyapov, Vitebsky Kuryer reporter
Sergei Serebro and Belarusian Popular Front activist Vladislav
Tokarev. Most of the activists were held overnight and independent
media reported on March 23 that Zhelyapov received 10 days of
administrative arrest for participating in an unsanctioned rally.
Other activists received five-day sentences or fines.
8. Zubr activist Nikita Sasim, who is currently being held by
police under charges of draft evasion, was transferred from a
hospital to the Baranovichi temporary detention center. Human
rights NGO Charter97 indicated that Sasim was in the hospital
recovering from his recent surgery to have his appendix removed.
Foreigners Detained and Deported for Supporting Demonstrations
9. Belapan reported that Polish Sejm member Jaroslaw Jagiello was
arrested on March 21 for participating in the October Square
demonstrations. The Polish Embassy reported that he stood trial on
March 22. Georgian media reported that three Georgian nationals -
two clergymen Malkhaz Songulashvili and Basily Kobakhidze and one
religious studies scholar Lado Gogiashvili - were deported from
Belarus on March 22 and banned from re-entry for five years after
they were arrested on Monday for participating in the March 19
demonstration on October Square (ref B). In addition, Vyasna human
rights activist Valentin Stefanovich reported that on March 21
Judge Aleksei Bychko of the Tsentralny District Court sentenced
three Russian citizens to ten days in jail for petty hooliganism.
10. Although the authorities have allowed the demonstrations on
October Square to continue, the mass arrests of activists, usually
away from the Square and thus out of the sight of foreign
journalists and observers, indicate that the GOB remains committed
to breaking the resolve and spirit of the protesters. Coupled with
the opposition's lack of coordination, organization and
preparedness (ref C), these mass arrests will most likely have a
crippling effect on the opposition's ability to sustain momentum.