Brussels, 26 June 2020

Mass repressions in Belarus during the election campaign

The Belarusian National Platform and the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF have released a statement on the mass repressions in the Republic of Belarus during the presidential campaign. It protests against the actions of Belarusian authorities and urges them to end the violations of the law and human rights.

The Steering Committee and the Belarusian National Platform of the EaP CSF strongly condemn the actions of the Belarusian authorities during the presidential campaign. According to the BNP and the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF, Belarusian authorities have violated national and international law, democratic principles and human rights through several actions.

First, a potential presidential candidate, Viktar Babaryka, was arrested and prosecuted together with the leader of his initiative group, Eduard Babaryka. They were not given timely legal assistance, which constitutes a deprivation of a constitutional right, and their detention was politically motivated. As a result, the BNP EaP CSF considers the arrest of Viktar and Eduard Babaryka arbitrary and illegal. Moreover, political persecutions took place of Viktar Babaryka’s friends, former colleagues and work partners at Belgazprombank. This is regarded as political and psychological pressure on the potential candidate.

Second, Siarhiej Cichanoŭski, the head of the initiative group to nominate President Sviatłana Cichanoŭskajaa, was arrested and persecuted together with other members of the group. The Steering Committee and the Belarusian National Platform believe that the detention took place in a context of provocation by law enforcement officials. Furthermore, it is highlighted that unknown persons exerted  psychological pressure on Sviatłana Cichanoŭskajaa. Internal affairs bodies refused to investigate this matter.

Third, administrative arrests occurred of opposition politicians and activists who participated in legal pickets to collect signatures for candidates for the presidency of Belarus. Among them were Pavieł Sieviaryniec and Mikoła Statkievič. Belarusian human rights organisations, which are members of the BNP EaP CSF, report that from May 6 to June 18 2020, 97 people were administratively arrested because they expressed their opinion while 105 people received fines.

Moreover, peaceful demonstrations were organised as a sign of solidarity with detainees. Several participants of these events were detained. Journalists who covered these demonstrations were also arrested. On June 19, 13 media representatives were forcibly detained.

In addition, Zmicier Łupač and Michaś Aršynski, journalists of the independent Belsat television channel, were sentenced to 10 and 21 days of administrative arrest. 11 journalists of the same channel received fines of 10,179 Belarusian rubles for work without accreditation. Lastly, the head of the Belarusian Bureau of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty received a threat from the Minister of Information of Belarus concerning the coverage of the events in the country.

Given the facts above, the Belarusian National Platform and the Steering Committee of the EaP CSF believe that the actions of Belarusian authorities constitute politically motivated repressions against democracy. No democratic and transparent elections can be held under these conditions in Belarus.

Therefore, the the Steering Committee and the BNP urge the authorities to immediately release all opposition politicians or activists who were arbitrarily detained and stop any unlawful interference in the election process. Democracy and transparency of the electoral process must be guaranteed.

The statement also constitutes a call for the international community and CSOs to show solidarity with the repressed in order to put an end to the persecution and repression of citizens in Belarus.

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Statement on the mass repressions in Belarus during the presidential campaign, 26 June 2020