BELARUSALERT – DAY 41 & 42
Date: 21 September 2020
Lukashenko closes borders, except for one | Another women’s march, falling attendance
On September 18, it turned out that the borders of Belarus with Poland and Lithuania had not been closed, as announced the day before by Lukashenko. In response to the threat from the Belarusian leader, Lithuanian Prime Minister – Saulius Skvernelis, announced that if Belarus closes its borders, Poland and Lithuania will close their borders for Belarusian goods going to the West. On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke at the Council’s forum via a video connection. According to the resolution, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Michelle Bachelet, is to present a report on the situation in Belarus before the end of the year. 23 countries voted in favor of the resolution, while 2 were against it and 22 abstained. Russia, which does not have the right to vote in the Council (it is an observer) attempted to prevent the adoption of the resolution. The Russians submitted several amendments, but all of them were rejected. The resolution was criticized by the head of Belarusian diplomacy. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus – Vladimir Makei, also warned that Minsk would respond to possible EU sanctions with its own personal sanctions. Such a list is said to be already prepared. Furthermore, according to Makei’s statements, the presence of foreign media in Belarus may be limited. Meanwhile, Maria Kolesnikova’s attorney informed on Friday that the oppositionist, accused of calling for actions detrimental to state security, will remain in custody until November 8. Maxim Znak, another member of the Coordination Council, who was charged with the same allegation, declared a hunger strike on September 18.
The Human Rights Centre “Viasna” reported on Saturday evening that at least 342 people were detained during the women’s protest in Minsk, some of whom were quickly released. About 2,000 people took part in a traditional Saturday’s women’s march in the capital on September 19. The participants of the protest were detained by OMON officers and masked men in unmarked suits. The attendance at the women’s march on September 19 confirms the decrease of Belarusians’ involvement in the protests. A week earlier about 10,000 people took part in the protest. This time, however, there were far more arrests – a week earlier only about 50, nearly seven times less than on September 19. Meanwhile, it was the first time that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had made such a strong reference to the international activity of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. A spokeswoman of the Ministry – Maria Zakharova, stated that the invitation of the Belarusian oppositionist to the meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU countries is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. This is a reaction to the information from Brussels that an informal meeting of the head of EU diplomacy – Josep Borrell and the foreign ministers of the Member States with Tsikhanouskaya is to occur on Monday, September 21. The meeting will take place on the day when the EU Council is scheduled to discuss the introduction of sanctions against the Lukashenko’s regime. On the other hand, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus announced that Tsikhanouskaya’s invitation to the meeting of EU Heads of Diplomacy will be a direct interference in the affairs of Belarus.
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