BELARUSALERT – DAY 24
Date: 2 September 2020
Student protest, split in opposition, Catholics in the spotlight
On September 1, students of various universities took to the streets of Minsk. They were attacked and detained by the militia, which blocked their access to the Ministry of Education. They intended to file a petition demanding the resignation of Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners there. A total of 70 people were detained. During the evening protests in various parts of Minsk the militia did not intervene. On Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report, in which it speaks of 450 documented cases of torture and brutal treatment of people by the Belarusian authorities. The report shows that six people are still missing after the protests. There is information about rapes and beating even of women and children. Meanwhile, it could be observed that the regime decided to turn the Catholic Church into an institution allegedly implementing the policy of the West and inciting Belarusians. “Attempts to exert pressure on the Catholic Church mean that persecution of the Church is taking place, although nobody talks about it directly” – stated on Tuesday the Auxilary Bishop of Minsk-Mohilev – Yury Kasabutski. He is in charge of the structures of the Catholic Church in Belarus in the absence of Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who was barred by the regime from entering into the country. This is a violation of the law, which does not provide for the possibility of refusing own citizens to enter the homeland. Furthermore, the authorities of the Catholic Church were not invited to a meeting of the Interfaith Advisory Council, organized by the state with the representatives of various denominations. During this meeting, the delegates of the regime fiercely attacked the Catholic Church. Simultaneously, the first serious differences begin to appear among the opposition. The staff of Viktar Babaryka informed about the plans to create a new party. The founders of the Wmiestie (Together) party put changes in the constitution in the first place. Moreover, Babaryka said in his appeal from behind the bars that “we did not manage to win the election.” According to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, this is a harmful attempt to change the key political agenda by moving on to a discussion on constitutional reform – it is worth remembering that it is Lukashenko who talks about such a change, stipulating that he can only talk about it with “reasonable” people, not those who take to the streets. Tsikhanouskaya believes that the first step should be Lukashenko’s resignation, release of political prisoners, settlement of those guilty of repressions and fair elections, only then the reform of the constitution. Meanwhile, Lukashenko is pacifying the trace amounts of incomplete loyalty in his surroundings, having dismissed the ambassadors to Slovakia and Spain. Unofficial reports from the American administration indicate that the US is considering sanctions against seven Belarusian citizens for their participation in the fraudulent presidential election and violence against protesters. Moreover, US sanctions against Russia are still possible if it decides to intervene in Belarus. This was the warning that was to be given during last week’s visit of the US Deputy Secretary of State – Stephen Biegun, to Moscow.
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