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01.03.2007

Belarusian women are coming to Kyiv to be heard

   

The action planned for 2 March at 12.00 near the Belarusian Embassy is not of a political nature. However the situation shows clearly the policy in “stable” Belarus to ordinary citizens (those whom according to the propaganda Lukashenko’s regime looks after), how the regime treats people, and the scale of the arbitrary rule by public officials.

So why are the women coming to protest in Kyiv? It should be noted that these are not political or civic activists. They are relatives of people convicted in criminal, civil or property cases, and those whose relatives were victims of crimes investigating inefficiently. Having lost faith in achieving justice and adherence to the law in Belarus, they have decided to turn for support to the international community. On the eve of Lukashenko’s visit to Ukraine, the women are hoping to draw attention to violations of human rights in Belarus.

In Belarus itself, the women were prohibited three times from holding street protests. If you don’t have permission from the city authorities, any protest actions will be broken up by the spetsnaz [special forces] and those taking part imprisoned for up to 15 days. The third time they were turned down on the grounds that their actions could be deemed “pressure on the court”. However the relatives of the initiators of the actions have already been sentenced and are serving long sentences. The women met specifically in the corridors of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General’s offices, the Presidential Administration when trying for the nth time to have the cases of their relatives reviewed.

The women stress that in today’s Belarus there is no mechanism enabling people to have any impact on public officials.

Many of these women have gained a lot of legal knowledge simply through their efforts to help their relatives. They have learned to discover the facts that the investigators were either unable or unwilling to uncover. They understood that they could only have any hope of achieving justice for their loved ones by uniting their efforts.

Some specific examples. Larisa Nikitina’s daughter and two grandchildren died of carbon monoxide poisoning in their home. This was due to the negligence of communal services staff, yet nobody has been held to answer.

Ludmila Kuchury’s husband was convicted of murdering a state inspector for the protection of wildlife. Among the many discrepancies in the case is the fact that a photo shows that the man was shot in the back, yet the court judgment states that he was shot in the chest. None of the officials in charge explain what happened. 

Galina Yubko’s sister and brother-in-law were killed in an arson attack. The criminal investigation was only launched 10 months after the crime. The supposed killed who was underage at the time of the crime was sentenced to 14 years. Galina has read the case material and is convinced that though this person was present during the crime, he was not the killer and is seeking to have the real culprit found

The women ask that the court rulings in their cases or those of their relatives be lawful, justified and fair. However their complaints are met with formal fob offs. They have been forced as a result to approach state bodies again and again. In the end they are told that the correspondence is at an end.

For them only one way remains: to protest on the street. Yet Lukashenko’s regime is judging by everything, even more frightened of this  than of exclusively political protest. This is because these women are the “ordinary people” in whose name Lukashenko hypocritically pretends to speak. The ordinary people who are absolutely powerless before officials under his dictatorship.

The Press Service of the United Civic Party

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