Press-conference in the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius

Belarus: a month after December 19th: Tragedy for one country or for the whole Europe?

On 19 January 2011, representatives of the International Civic Initiative for OSCE (ICI OSCE) and the Committee of International Control over the Human Rights situation in Belarus held a press-conference in the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius concerning developments in the human rights situation in Belarus. International experts and representatives of human rights organizations from different countries presented their assessment of what is happening in Belarus from the human rights perspective and shared with the audience and mass media recommendations on the improvement f the complicated situation.

A month after the presidential election and dispersal of the opposition rally in Minsk, the information about interrogations, searches in the offices and homes of human rights defenders, journalists and opposition actors continues to come. Thirty-one person is imprisoned pending trial on charges of organizing riots. The official Minsk continues to construct new versions of those events. One of the reactions of civil society to what is happening was to create the Committee of International Control over the Human Rights situation in Belarus. The International Observation Mission of the Committee, working directly in Minsk, monitors the situation, assists local human rights defenders and covers what's going on. It consists of people from various NGOs from OSCE participating states, replacing each other during the work in Mission. The Committee itself includes more than 20 organizations who agreed to join forces for continuous oversight over the human rights situation and the promotion of joint positions on normalizing the situation, including with the use of OSCE mechanisms.

Press conference has been held right after the meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania A.Azhubalis with the International Civil Initiative for OSCE, which in Dec., 2010 was one of the initiators of the Committee of International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. The participants of the Initiative have presented recommendations for Lithuania as Chairmanship-in-office of OSCE, which were described by Vladimir Shkolnikov,  one of the leading international experts on OSCE, by Andrey Yurov, head of the International Observation Mission and by Dmitri Makarov, its representative. The main recommendations focused on a broader support for the civil society and more effective use of the OSCE mechanisms and the opportunities of the current Chairmanship to react to the crises, similar to one happening in Belarus.

«The avalanche of repressions is not growing any smaller and each day there is a continuation, — said at the end of the meeting Chair of the Belarussian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak. — In our conversation with the minister we've underlined the importance of securing the conditions for the work of journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and others, who in such difficult situation continue to exercise their professional duties».
OSCE is unique as we bring non-governmental organizations into the heart of our decision-making. We welcome constructive, focused and consolidated civil society recommendations on all issues concerning the OSCE human dimension,“ said Minister Ažubalis, emphasizing also the importance of the work of national and international human rights organizations in Belarus after the event of December 19th. The Chairmanship has published an official press-release on the meeting.
The official release of the OSCE:

News of Belarus

Tough sentences announced to Brest antifascists

A verdict was delivered today in the case of Brest antifascists acused of participation in a group fight with neonazis which happened on May 8, 2013.

Antifascists were tried under the art. 339.3 (malicious group hooliganism) and 147.2 (malicious bodily harm). The case was qualified as malicious due to the fact of pepper spray usage in the fight.

Dzmitry Stsyashenka got 5 years of penal colony with reinforced regime (339.3) and 500 euro of damages to be paid to the injured nazis.

Exclusive: European Union moves to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month, diplomatic sources say.

An arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.