There is a danger that the Belarusian topic will finally go off the radar since the West has its own current news: elections in the USA, the coronavirus, local protests in Poland, and others. Plus, foreign journalists from Belarus were expelled and deprived of their accreditations. Who will write from the scene?
There are 8 TV channels in the country, all of them are state-owned. In August, access to more than 70 popular Belarusian sites in Belarus was closed. The authorities haven’t opened access to them yet, and not everyone has access to a VPN, many people just don’t know how to set up and use VPN on their PC or phones/tablets. Therefore, we draw information from social networks. Social network services are the lower layer of the Internet, which is not very authoritative, but it is faster than the traditional media, plus access to social network channels is not blocked for the most part. For instance, the blogger NEXTA has an audience that is larger than all Belarusian state-owned and private media combined have.
I ask you to carefully study the materials from the latest issues of «Brestskaya Gazeta» (it is a newspaper in Brest, Belarus): https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aqf-Bv9xauUcyAI8O36MOls1NNh8?e=QqGmuK
I would like to ask you to support the private newspaper «Brestskaya Gazeta»: they cover what the state media do not write about [protests, the murder of Shutau (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hienadz_Shutau), other repressions), write letters to political prisoners, if possible, subscribe them on their newspaper at their own expense]. On the contrary, a journalist of «Sovetskaya Belorussiya – Belarus’ Segodnya», the central print organ of the authorities, had to resign in August in protest, as he was not allowed to cover the murder of Alexander Taraikovsky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Taraikovsky) [https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Советская_Белоруссия_(газета)]. On TV, on the websites of the Belarusian Telegraph Agency, «Sovetskaya Belorussiya – Belarus’ Segodnya», they will not tell about the protests and repressions, the demonstrators will be denigrated, the so-called «police» will be whitewashed. I can’t find it right away but I saw a photo of the page of the Friday issue from one and a half weeks ago of the newspaper «Sovetskaya Belorussiya – Belarus’ Segodnya». There was a libel on Maria Kalesnikava from an author of the newspaper (his first name is Oleg, I don’t remember the author’s surname) with a half-page caricature of her face in the form of a vampire.
You need to give a like to the page of the newspaper «Brestskaya Gazeta» itself on Facebook:
Here it writes about a Brest resident Marina, 25 years old, a teacher of English and Polish, who has been in captivity for more than a month. I was shocked. I saw such a beauty and clever girl! Then the editorial office doubled down coverage, wrote about her in the newspaper (her photo is at the top of the first page, the story is on the second page). Journalists kindly asked all to write her letters to support the girl. I posted one today.
In the same latest issue, there is a photo of a female pensioner who is being bullied (on the front page). They impose a 15-day arrest on her for a peaceful protest with flowers. She served that sentence. Then there was court session #2, they additionally fined her, she was going out of the courthouse, but the so-called «police» immediately detained her on the street again. An elderly person is being terrorized.
Let’s look at other pages of the newspaper. There are photos of its photographers (two boys) and stories on them. On Sunday afternoon both photographers covered the marches in Brest, wearing «Press» vests, had an editorial assignment signed by the editor-in-chief, all documents. They were taken into custody for 3 days. Then, a day after their release, there was a trial on them in haste, they got another 15 days into custody. The fact that «Brestskaya Gazeta» has state registration, the correspondents had all the documents with them in their hands, which were presented in court as well, was not taken into account.
In September, the biggest chain of supermarkets in Belarus «Euroopt», refused to sell «Brestskaya Gazeta», and its circulation dropped from 5300 to 5000 per week(
There is a story about the rector of the Brest State Technical University too. He was let go for supporting the detained students. Instead of him, a protégé from Minsk was appointed. There are about 50 universities in Belarus, 40 of them are public, 10 are private (private universities are small, they have very few students). All of their rectors are appointed by the president. Since the end of August 2020, about a dozen of unwanted rectors have been dismissed from their universities(
Last week, on the orders of Lukashenka, repressions began against artists (even honored ones: https://be.wikipedia.org/wiki/Катэгорыя:Рэпрэсаваныя_рэжымам_Лукашэнкі), doctors, teachers, students, and others. Students are expelled for political reasons; there are already hundreds of them across the country, in Brest State Technical University, where the new rector is wielding authority, too (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staatliche_Technische_Universität_Brest).
Photo: “Please stop the violance in Belarus”, Michael Lea
There is such a problem. Those who studied for free, at the expense of the state budget, will have to reimburse these expenses of the state budget, which is formed of the taxes of Belarusians themselves, for the «free» education (according to the constitution, education is free, but on a competitive basis). This is about $1000 for each year of study + scholarships (circa $40 a month, it depends on academic performance, it may be less), that is, $1000–1500 on the hook for each year + a small interest (maybe 5–10% per year) at the refinancing rate for “use of other people’s funds” in total. By the way, those who study for free must then work for 2 years in accordance with the distribution (in a number of specialties: military, agrarians, doctors – up to 5 years), thus only after that, this money for “free” education is not going to be returned.
Fortunately, free positions in universities are mainly for non-prestigious specialties. In total, only circa 30% of all students study free of charge, while circa 70% study at their own expense. That category of students doesn’t need to pay anything back. Additionally, the youngsters in Belarus had been studied for 5 years before. Now and for ten years already, they study mainly for 4 years, but the diplomas they receive upon graduation are the same as those for who had studied for 5 years. So it is a small benefit to pay just for 4 years of study nowadays instead of 5 years. It is a bargain!
The expelled young men will be enrolled in the army: since there is a shortage of recruits for a decade in Belarus, seven years ago the list of diseases to be recognized as unfit for health reasons was significantly narrowed down. They recruit both the bespectacled and ones with heart diseases. Those who have diplomas of higher education serve for 12 months; without a one, the young men under 27 serve for 18 months.
Call to action!
Please provide information to politicians in Germany, the EU, so that they can promptly consider the possibility of accepting Belarusian students expelled for political reasons at local universities, pay for the remaining years of study, and provide scholarships so that they can finish their studies. If necessary, allocate money for a preparatory year (language courses) for them. Belarusians often study in Poland, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic. If we raise the issue to the EU level together, other countries would help too. The deputies should be told that they should help without bureaucracy (visas, admission) and that European universities should enroll them for related or similar specialties
Call to action!
It is also worth letting familiar politicians know about this petition. We must give it traction.
We need international pressure. For example, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called Lukashenko personally last Sunday, and 24 hours later, the American detained in Belarus in the summer was already in the United States, and before that, he had been in prison for more than 3 months. It could also be done by the Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and for the same Swiss Natallia Hersche, the woman about whom Libereco wrote.
In the «Brestskaya Gazeta» newspaper, the info about All Belarusian People’s Assemblies is marked in red. These are people’s gatherings like the similar Congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or China, where the illusion of democracy is created. See more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Belarusian_People%27s_Assembly.
The story in the newspaper recalls the news for 2006, when Alyaksandr Kazulin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alyaksandr_Kazulin), ex-rector of the Belarusian State University, was beaten by the police, then detained to not allow him to participate. In 2010, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, poet and candidate in presidents, had collected 27 thousand signatures from his Lenisky district of Minsk to participate in the 4th All Belarusian People’s Assembly but he was simply not allowed to enter into the building, where the congress was held. At least, he was not being crippled that day.
Call to action!
Write in German or English to the German Embassy in Belarus (https://www.facebook.com/posolstvogermaniiminsk/) in private messages from your Facebook account that they are great, because they support «Brestskaya Gazeta» (the newspaper writes about the killing of Shutau, supports political prisoners by sending letters to them and publishing their answers on them, subscribes them to its newspaper, although its journalists themselves are being arrested). Please attach a photo of the page of the newspaper that you liked most. You can also send an official e-mail from the ISHR e-mail to the German Embassy in Belarus by e-mail with the same thanks. The German embassy in Belarus has been buying a page in the newspaper for several years already, posting the German agenda based on the materials of Deutsche Welle.
Usually, the promoted topics are in the field of culture, the German customs, but, if something is on point, there would be reports about the elections in Belarus (a view from Germany). Previously, their materials were published once a month, since August 2020 they appear in almost every issue. In past years, they wrote, for example, why Germans can visit other Germans only if they have informed them about that a week in advance at least, why the hostess puts sausages or cookies on the table just per 1 a person – according to the number of guests – no more, and the like. In Brest, there was a private newspaper «Brestskiy Kurier» with a hundred-year history, it was closed in 2018 due to financial problems. We must support «Brestskaya Gazeta»! The state propagandistic media are given money from the state budget, e.g. the taxes of Belarusians. Who will help the private media?
What it comes about strikes, it is a highlighted one in the newspaper in red. In Minsk, in the Belarus High Technologies Park on Monday, October 26, 1000 programmers gathered for a spontaneous peaceful rally near the building. They were dispersed, the so-called police broke one a leg. Then they gathered again, about 300 people. The fact is that programmers are the gold of the nation. High Technologies Park programmers receive at least $1000 a month, while on average $2000, and they bring such a valuable foreign currency in the country. Programmers, miners, oil workers provide the main income for Belarus, because other spheres of the economy are either net a very low profit or are unprofitable at all. There are very small salaries and pensions in Belarus (a standard salary is €150 a month (€200 a month is considered a good salary), a standard pension is €100 a month).
I forgot to add about the recent statement on the human rights situation in Belarus:
(Belarusian and Russian below)
The statement was signed by the USA, Germany, and 50 more countries, as well as the EU. It was not signed by Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Turkey, North Korea, etc. not too democratic countries.