NEW ANTI GOVERNMENTAL LEGISLATION IN PLACE
“The KGB has evidence”
Belarusian KGB chief Stepan Sukharenko
From the Top
NEW LEGISLATION CONDEMNS GOVERNMENTAL OPPOSITION TO JAIL TERMS
BELARUS TOUGHENS CRIMINAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR SEDITION
Belta and Charter ‘97
|This bill was submitted to the parliament marked “urgent” by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on November 23. On November 25 it was passed in the first reading.|
The legal enactment envisages criminal accountability for “unlawful actions against the state which create prerequisites for external pressure on Belarus”, the official said.
Deputies in the Chamber of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, voted 97 to four to back amendments to the Criminal Code that provide tough penalties for anyone convicted of inciting demonstrations or spreading information deemed to discredit Belarus.
Introduced to the Criminal Code, the article “Discredit of the Republic of Belarus” envisages a 6-month arrest or 2-year imprisonment for people who deliberately provide a foreign state or international organization with false information about political, economic, social and human rights situation in Belarus thus discrediting the country and authorities.
Belarusian KGB chief Stepan Sukharenko noted “with the presidential election at hand, some destructive forces intend to use the election campaign to spark off a violent seizure of power following the scenarios of the coloured revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan”. In drafting the bill these circumstances were taken into consideration.
In line with the document the accountability for encroachment upon the constitutional rights of citizens under the veneer of political parties, public and religious organizations will be toughened.
Persons calling on foreign states or international organizations to impair the security interests of Belarus, to cause damage to its sovereignty and people distributing materials containing such appeals will be arrested for the term up to six months or imprisoned up to three years. If these appeals will be made through mass media outlets the term of imprisonment can make from two to five years.
The accountability for appeals to seize power, to change the constitutional system or to commit a terrorist act is also toughened (an arrest up to six months or imprisonment up to three years).
KGB LEADER SPEAKS
HEAD OF KGB DEEMS IT APPROPRIATE TO TOUGHEN ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ACTIONS AGAINST PUBLIC SECURITY
| Stepan Sukhorenko: “Nobody has a purpose to limit actions of some people. We just would like these actions to be more civilized, not doing harm to the national interests of the country”. |
Answering questions of reporters, Stepan Sukhorenko stressed that “nobody has a purpose to limit actions of some people. We just would like these actions to be more civilized, not doing harm to the national interests of the country”.
Stepan Sukhorenko believes this law is necessary because today destructive forces are bring formed in Belarus who will be ready to make use of the forthcoming presidential election to seize power using violence according to the scenario applied in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
“The KGB has evidence”, the KGB head stated.
Sukharenka stated that the KGB has information confirming existence of illegal groups that at one point can incite mass riot in the country. “The work is underway, and I hesitate to speak of concrete figures, but very many young people got under influence of destructive forces,” the chairman of the KGB said to journalists on Friday. Speaking about the legal responsibility for “fraudulent representation of situation in the Republic of Belarus” in reference to foreign mass media in the country coming within the purview of law,, the head of the KGB said that in this case “foreign mass media would be deprived of accreditation and expelled from the country”. As for Belarusian journalists, contributing to the foreign mass media, S.Sukharenka stated: “They should read the law and think it over”.
The KGB chairman added that the bill “protects national interests”. According to him, norms working in other countries are tougher. If, for instance, the USA hears calls for the power seizure, countermeasures would be much stronger, the KGB head noted.
JUSTICE MINISTRY WARNINGS
ALYAKSANDR PETRASH ADVISES DISCRETION
|Deputy Minister of Justice Alyaksandr Petrash|
Last Friday the Belarusian parliament passed amendments to the Belarusian Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, elaborated by the KGB. It introduces criminal liability for providing information discrediting policy of Belarus; education or other forms of preparation of street actions protesters; participation in unregistered public associations and political organizations.
The KGB maintains that the draft law is necessary for prevention of “colour revolutions” in the country, resembling the events in other CIS countries.
BELARUS: PLEASE RECONSIDER
EU, US AND OTHERS CONCERNED OVER AMENDMENTS TO BELARUSIAN CRIMINAL CODE
QUOTES from multiple sources
“So it happened today. The puppet parliament had no problem at all voting for Lukashenka’s amendments, which are almost exact replica’s of the Stalin’s articles from the Soviet constitution. Only four MP’s from our puppet “palata” had enough guts to vote “No!”.
The reactions from all European politicians are not surprising. Vice-chairman of the Polish parliament called it “a declaration of war” on all free media. Lithuanian MP’s called it a barbaric, “totally uncivilized” law. A former Polish ambassador said that “now it can be said openly that Belarus is 100% totalitarian state.”
Quoted from the BR23 Blog
"Adopting such undemocratic legislation could incur serious consequences for Belarusian authorities."
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
"(We are) gravely concerned about the legislation. This may very well open the way for arbitrary application of the law. As such, these provisions have the potential to become a flagrant violation of a number of the OSCE principles and commitments that Belarus has subscribed to."
AKE PETERSON, the Minsk-based representative of the organization for security and cooperation and Europe, Europe’s biggest security and rights body
"It's clear this will not affect opposition tactics, as it is, we have few legal means of conducting political activity."
ALEXEI YANUKEVICH, deputy head of the Popular Front
“IT’S A MANIFESTATION OF REAL TERROR. First of all, it’s another blow on freedom of expression. When people who openly express their opinion on situation in Belarus would be imprisoned, it means that the ruler of Belarus wants to gag all the citizens. Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights of the citizens. In this Belarus violates all possible international conventions,”
BARBARA KUDRYCKA MP of the European Parliament
“The introduction of the bill was an obvious attempt to scare the Belarusian people and suppress freedom of speech when the country was nearing presidential elections. We urge Belarus to reconsider their decision and cancel the bill.”
A statement by Great Britain
"IT’S A RETURN TO THE “IRON CURTAIN! the authorities are trying to scare the people before the (2006 presidential) elections, so that no one will dare, even when abroad, to say anything bad about Lukashenko."
And then this opinion about the Belarusian parliament:
“Appointed deputies cannot make responsible political decisions. The leash on which “the chamber of representatives” is kept and dragged, makes it possible fort them only to be at feet of those who had appointed them to this position. In this situation I do not see other solutions but to bring up a question in the international community. People who had supported return to the Soviet past, to the “Iron curtain”, and to political repressions for dissent, are worth the pinpoint repressions against them. This could be at least an ban for entering the European countries,”
ANATOL LYABEDZKA, Belarusian oppositionist
“This makes the crap the government is pulling in Australia seem minor.”
Lukeii, a commenter on the BR23 Blog.
“DISCREDITING” COULD BE INTERPRETED ARBITRARILY
The obscure wording of the Article “Discrediting of the Republic of Belarus” gives judges wide possibilities for treating it. “What does it mean, discrediting Belarus? Imagine, in official newspapers or opinion polls I found information that crime rate had reached a certain level. If I inform foreign press about that, would it be discrediting or not? It all depends on applying these articles in practice,” told a lawyer, a member of the Political council of the United Civil party of Belarus Mikhail Plisko in his interview to Gazeta.ru
As said by the lawyer, an amendment about “appeals to foreign states, international or foreign organization to perform actions damaging external security of Belarus, its sovereignty and territorial integrity” is important. Such actions are to be punished by arrest, the term ranging from six month up to three years. In case these calls would be disseminated by the mass media, the punishment is stricter - deprivation of liberty for a period of two to five years.
In fact, any request to initiate international investigation means criminal liability.
“In the judicial system we have, these words could mean an appeal to hold public hearings of the high-profile abductions of people, on electoral code, and whether the electoral code meet the norms of a democratic society,” Mr Plisko believes.
STANISLAU SHUSHKEVICH: GOVERNMENT LACKS SIBERIA FOR ITS ATIVITIES’ SCOPE
|Stanislau Shushkevich (center) with former Ukrainian President, Leonid Kravchuk (Left)|
“Even now the remand prisons are overcrowded. Prisoners charged for political reasons and other prisoners are kept together. And when in Minsk it becomes known and discussed, in which conditions people are kept, sending to colonies makes it possible to exclude such attention of the public,” Shushkevich says. “Belarus is not Siberia. The present regime really lacks Siberia for the scope of its activities. In case we unite with Russia, dissenters could be locked up far away”.
In addition to the above statements Mr. Shushkevic also commented on the upcoming elections as follows:
"I think that Alexander Milinkevich, the proposed option is not anti-Russian. The opposition candidate suits well and one may talk to him on the issue," Shushkevich said in an interview published by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
On October 3, 2005 the Belarussian democratic forces congress elected Milinkevich as the unified opposition candidate.
If Russia does not support Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, he will lose the election, Shushkevich said. "I hope that the Russian authorities understand that there is no use in supporting Lukashenko. In that case, his regime will fall after the next elections. That`s for sure," he said.
Speaking about prospects for Belarussian-NATO relations in case opposition wins the elections, Shushkevich said that Belarus "will not join NATO under any leader."
"I do not know any opposition activist, who would aspire to join NATO," he said.
KOMMUNARKA TO SELL CHOCOLATE AT 20 PER CENT DISCOUNT TILL DECEMBER 31
The specialist also noted that two types of chocolate – Liubimaya Alenka and Kommunarka will be issued in a new packing. Ekaterina Zakhoroshko paid special attention to the company’s innovation – Gorkiy Shokolad with cacao crumbs. Natural cacao in the chocolate accounts for 70 per cent, however, it does not make it high-calorific, the specialist underlined.
On the threshold of the New Year holiday the company will offer new type of chocolate – Stolichnyi.
ALYAKSANDR MILINKEVICH ASKS FOR HELP
BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER ASKS LITHUANIA TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT PRESS
|Milinkevich: We have to support the newspapers|
"There are two problems in Belarus blocking the development of democracy in the country. These are a level of fear that is the same as people experienced when Stalin ruled, and the lack of information provided by the independent press," said the politician.
He stressed that because of the Belarusian Government`s oppression, the number of independent newspapers is decreasing dramatically. Four years ago, there were 60 newspapers, next year, there will only be four independent newspapers left.
"We have to support the newspapers; we need paper, toner," said Milinkevich last Friday [ 25 November], after his meeting with President Valdas Adamkus in Vilnius.
He stressed the importance of Internet access; in Belarus, Internet access is very expensive. "Currently, Belarus is experiencing an Internet boom; people are searching for information on the Internet. Therefore it is very important to ensure that public organizations do have Internet access," he said.
When asked how he evaluates his chances of winning in the Belarusian presidential elections scheduled for July next year, Milinkevich said that if the elections were honest, an alternative candidate would have more chances than the current President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. However, now, according to Milinkevich, it is possible to win the elections only by "going into the streets saying `no`."
MORE NEWSPAPER WOES
BELSAIUZDRUK BREAKS AGREEMENTS WITH TWO MORE NON-STATE NEWSPAPERS
According to the press-service of Belarusian Association of Journalists and Viasna
|Emblem of the BAJ|
In both letters it is stated that the term of the agreements for distribution and expedition of the retail circulations would end on 31 December and the agreement is not liable to prolongation. Nothing is said about the reasons for this decision. We should remind that several days ago Minsaiuzdruk also broke the agreement with the non-state newspaper Salidarnasts concerned distribution of the edition by subscription in 2006.
BPF ACTIVIST DETAINED FOR HANDING OUT NARODNAIA VOLIA
On 2 December Alies Mazanik, member of the organization committee of BPF Youth was detained in Kastrychnitskaia Square in Minsk for handing out Narodnaia Volia newspaper and taken to Minsk Tsentralny Borough Board of Internal Affairs.
“JEANS ARE A SYMBOL OF CHANGE”
ANATOL LYABEDZKA SUPPORTS ZUBR ACTICISTS
|Zubr leader Mikita Sasim made a flag from his jeans shirt.|
TATSIANA KHOMA COMPLAINS AGAINST RECTOR’S ORDER TO EXPEL HER FROM BELARUSIAN STATE ECONOMIC UNIVERSITY
According to studenty.by and Viasna
|Students protesting on behalf of Tatsyana Khoma|
EASTERN EUROPEAN ELECTIONS
U.S. SENDS 51 OBSERVERS TO KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Several stories from RIA Novosti, and the Kiev Post
|Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev|
Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission has accredited 11 U.S. Embassy officials as observers. Furthermore, another 40 U.S. nationals will work as part of a team of international observers from the OSCE.
The total number of OSCE observers at the Kazakh elections will be more than 400, the press service said.
UNITED RUSSIA WINS CHECHEN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
|Alu Alchenoc, President of Chechnya|
According to Commission Chairman Ismail Baikhanov, three out of eight parties made it into the parliament - United Russia, the Communist Party, and the Union of Right Forces (SPS).
The party garnered 60.65% of the popular vote, which gives it 14 seats. The Communists received 12.2% and the SPS, 12.39%. These parties will get three seats each, Baikhanov said.
In individual electoral districts, United Russia won 19 out of 38 seats. The Communists won three seats, while the SPS and the Eurasian Union one seat each.
Independent candidates will have 14 seats.
The Chechen parliament is comprised of two houses - the People's Assembly (lower house) and the Republic Council (upper house).
YUSHCHENKO CALLS ON WORLD TO RECOGNIZE SOVIET-ERA FAMINE AS GENOCIDE
|1932 1933 YEARS OF INDUCED FAMINE IN UKRAINE CREATED BY THE MUSCOVITE OCCUPIERS|
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin provoked the 1932-1933 famine as part of his campaign to force Ukrainian peasants to give up their land and join collective farms. During the height of the famine, cases of cannibalism were widespread as people grew desperate to survive.
"The world must know about this tragedy," said Yushchenko, at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the famine victims on the eve of its anniversary.
He said the millions of victims should "become a lesson for our nation as well as for the whole world."
|artwork is by Eugenia Dallas|
Ukraine plans to mark the anniversary Saturday by lighting 33,000 candles - representing the number of people who died everyday at the famine's height.
The former Soviet republic also plans to plant an alley of trees and hold a march in downtown capital Kyiv. The National Broadcasting Council asked television and radio stations to not air any entertainment programs on Saturday.
WHY IS UZBEKISTAN LOSING INTEREST IN THE WEST?
OPINION By RIA Novosti political commentator Vladimir Simonov.
|Troops at the Khanabad military base.|
The other day, Uzbekistan prohibited NATO allies to use its land and airspace for the operation in neighboring Afghanistan. The Uzbek authorities insist that the allied forces, above all German and Spanish, leave the country by January 1, 2006. This year, Uzbekistan also told the United States, which is involved in a separate anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, to leave the Khanabad military base. Washington pulled out.
NATO and U.S. spokesmen describe this as Tashkent's overdramatic reaction to their criticism of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan. They assure everyone who agrees to listen that this would not affect the logistics of the operation in Afghanistan. But independent military observers do not share this conviction.
It is interesting that Washington and the EU think that criticism of a democratic situation in some country may force its authorities to cool relations to the near-freezing point. I can name many states that hold the bottom places on the U.S. State Department's list of civil freedoms yet maintain friendly relations with Washington. So, Washington and the governing structures of the European Union are not trying to seriously analyze the reasons for the fallout with Tashkent for fear of getting unpleasant results.
In the early 1990s, Uzbekistan regained its independence and became a confident player on the Central Asian market. Its natural resources, above all cotton, uranium and gold, encouraged many Western companies to open their branches, while NATO military experts were attracted by the favorable geostrategic location of Uzbekistan that allowed monitoring the vast territories of Russia and China.
Before the 9/11 tragedy in New York, Uzbek leader Islam Karimov, an experienced oriental politician, offered the U.S. military and security forces the possibilities they could not hope to get in any other Central Asian country. Few people know that the Pentagon and CIA started hunting for bin Laden from the territory of Uzbekistan before invading Afghanistan. Penetration teams were sent and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles took off from Uzbekistan. Tashkent embraced the Untied States after the 9/11 tragedy, allowing it to use the Khanabad air force base and the Kokaity auxiliary airfield. At the same time, the German air force settled at the base in Termez. Combined, this firmly incorporated Uzbekistan into the system of covering the military-strategic interests of the U.S. and NATO in Central Asia.
Tashkent's foreign policy was based on the seesaw principle. From 1999 to 2002, Uzbekistan withdrew from the Collective Security Treaty signed with Russia and several other post-Soviet states, and joined the GUUAM group (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova). President-for-life Islam Karimov is acting on the British principle: the country cannot have permanent friends, only permanent interests. In that period Uzbekistan's interests obviously moved toward the Untied States.
But the affair did not come to fruition. The formal reason for the fallout was the events in Andijan where people died during the suppression of public unrest. The Uzbek rulers and the West differed in their assessment of the number of casualties and the nature of the unrest. The U.S. and the EU saw the Andijan events as a ruthless suppression of a social outcry by Tashkent dictators. Islam Karimov put the blame on the Akromiya radical Islamic organization and Western instigators.
|Uzbek Baba, broom and Tank|
However, it was not the issue of human rights that ruined the once friendly Tashkent-Washington relations. The root cause is the specific mentality of the current U.S. administration, which regards its clients across the world mostly as temporary props for pursuing American policy. The old and useless ones are mercilessly discarded. Washington did not make it a secret after getting the Uzbek bases that it regarded Islam Karimov as exhausted human material that should be replaced with a more controllable leader.
This is why Washington has taken a series of haughty actions, such as refusal to pay a respectable fee for the lease of the Uzbek bases. It also introduced economic and political sanctions against the Tashkent authorities, eventually threatening to institute proceedings against Karimov in the International Court.
The United States seem to be pursuing a policy that is a carbon copy of the Soviet Union's of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time the Kremlin called for staging revolutions to replace old regimes across the world with a socialist model, which the Soviet ideologists regarded as the top of social justice. Today the U.S., believing that its notion of democracy is infallible, is using all instruments, both military and international legal ones, to change regimes and leaders at its discretion. But Uzbekistan proved to be a hard nut to crack.
LUKASHENKA MAKES SEVERAL DECREES
RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS TO BE EXEMPT FROM TAXES
From the official site of the president
|the Ctholic church at Barysaŭ|
Under the Decree, the religious organizations of all denominations and directions that are registered in Belarus shall be exempt from payment of taxes on the land plots given to them for the maintenance and/or servicing of edifices of worship, as well as on the permanent assets of the worship-related property.
The Decree has an attached list of the religious organizations which shall be exempt from land-tax and real-estate tax, and also a list of the religious organizations’ permanent assets of the worship-related property exempt from real-estate tax.
ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO ALSO ISSUED THE FOLLOWING OFFICIAL CONGRATULATIONS:
To: The President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan, and Vice-President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid Al Maktum on the occasion of the national holiday - the day of formation of the Federation of the United Arab Emirates.
To: The President of Laos Khamtai Siphadon on the national holiday – the Day of Proclamation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
To: The Deputy head of the administration of the president of Belarus Natalia Petkevich for her considerable contribution to development and improvement of the legislation and her fruitful work in the state bodies of Belarus.
FROM THE BEING HAD TIMES.
NO VERBAL JOUSTING TODAY.
The opinion of the BHTimes is that the new law is unjust, immoral, inappropriate, unnecessary, unneeded, insulting and damaging to the country.
It is only about fear and heavy handed governmental control and has no real redeeming value to the lives of Belarusian people.
Below is webspace where anyone can comment about this situation. The BHTimes urges you to do so...before it is too late.