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Youth Human Rights Movement

Special operation against the Special Rapporteur: Belarus is afraid of independent assessment of the human rights situation

Дата публикации: 

May 4, 2011, Minsk, Belarus. Human rights defenders from different OSCE countries were again detained in Minsk, in the office of “Viasna” Human Rights Center ahead of a press-conference where the Interim Report on events of 19th December, 2010 in Minsk, produced by the Special Rapporteur of Committee of International Control, was to be presented. Two representatives of the International Observation Mission were told to leave the country in 24 hours and are banned from entering Belarus for two years.

On 4th May officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus came to office of “Viasna” Human Rights Center, claiming they received a signal that some “strange boxes” had allegedly been brought to the office of “Viasna” and that explosives could be in the boxes. They locked the office from the inside and prevented anyone from leaving or entering it from the outside.

This was obviously an attempt of the Belarusian law enforcement agencies to block presentation of an independent report on the events of December 19, 2010 in Minsk, prepared by an independent expert group led by Dr. Neil Jarman, the Special Rapporteur of the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. The objective of the report is to provide impartial assessment of the events which took place in Minsk on December 19, 2010, including protest actions on Independence Square, violent dispersal of the crowd by the police and ensuing arrests and detentions, from the perspective of their compliance with international norms and national legislation of Belarus on freedom of peaceful assembly. Analysis of the process of the Presidential elections and its results were not in the mandate of the report.

No explosives were found during the search at “Viasna”. After that the law enforcement officers detained two members of the International Observation Mission of the Committee, Russian human rights activists Viktoria Gromova and Liubov Zakharova who were present in the office to prepare the press-conference, and took them to the Pervomaisky district police precinct for questioning. Other representatives of the Committee and journalists remained outside of the building. Yuri Dzhibladze, president of a Russian NGO, Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights and a member of the Council on Civil Society and Human Rights with the President of the Russian Federation, and Volodymir Chemeris, head of Ukrainan “Respublica” institute, held an improvised press-conference outside of the building in front of “Viasna”, presenting the report to the journalists. Immediately after the presentation Yuri Dzhibladze and Volodymir Chemeris as well as two other Russian representatives of the Mission, Aleksander Mnatsakanyan and Irina Paikacheva were also detained and taken to the same police precinct. It was clear that the plain cloth KGB officers gave orders to the police and run this “special operation”.

After being held for three hours at the police and questioned about the goals of their presence in Belarus, all the detainees were let go. Two persons, Viktoria Gromova and Aleksander Mnatsakanyan, received a written order to leave the territory of Belarus in 24 hours, banning them from entering the country for two years on the grounds that their names were put on the list of people whose presence in Belarus was forbidden or unwanted. They were told that this was a matter of national security. All together there have been seven human rights defenders, representing the International Observation Mission from Russia and Ukraine who in the course of the last have been ordered to leave the country and banned from entering it. Origins of this “black list” and legal grounds for inclusion into the list remain unclear; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus has previously denied its existence.

Andrey Yurov, head of the International Observation Mission, director for strategic development of the Moscow Helsinki Group, commented on the situation: “Our Observation Mission had lots of hope because for this report, as it was absolutely obvious that it can hugely influence the whole situation and current action of authorities towards those put under trials because of “mass disorders” on the 19th of December.” “It is also obvious,” says Andrey, “that the meaning of the report has been understood well not only by journalists but also by Belarus authorities who tried to stop its presentation”.

The Committee of International Control over the Human Rights situation in Belarus will continue to present and distribute the Interim Report on the events of December 19 in Moscow, Warsaw, Brussels and other cities. The report can be found on the Committee's web-site at

For further information:
Mr. Neil Jarman was appointed Special Rapporteur of the Committee on International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus. Mr. Jarman is independent international expert, director of the Institute for the Study of Conflict (Northern Ireland), head of the OSCE Panel of experts on freedom of assembly. The Special Rapporteur is leading a working group of experts from the OSCE region on issues of freedom of assembly, and measures of police response, which include Mr. Michael Hamilton (head of the group, a law professor at the Central European University, Budapest), Mr.Yuri Dzhibladze (Russia), Mr. Sergei Dickman (Russia), and Mr. Vladimir Chemerys (Ukraine).

The International Observation Mission was set up by the Committee of International Control over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus, which unites representatives of human rights organizations across the OSCE region and international civic networks and organizations, to monitor the overall situation with the observance of fundamental freedoms and human rights in Belarus, as well as the protection of human rights in professional activities.

Contact information:
+375-33-636-05-00 — International Observation Mission in Minsk,
+38-097-961-73-46 — Kyiv Informational Center for the Committee,
+7-915-547-65-87 — Committee of International Control, \\
Web-site for the Committee and the Mission: