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Urgent Interventions

Belarus: Judicial proceedings against four members of Initiative Partnership / Incommunicado detention

BLR 001 / 0806 / OBS 100
Incommunicado detentions / Judicial proceedings / Releases

August 21, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

Description of the situation :

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the sentences pronounced against Messrs. Nikolay Astreyko, Tsimofey Dranchuk, Eniro Bronizkaya and Aleksandr Shalayko, members of Initiative Partnership, an independent and unregistered election monitoring group, in Minsk, as well as of the ongoing detention of Messrs. Astreyko and Dranchuk.

According to the information received, on February 21, 2006, Messrs. Bronizkaya, Shalayko, Astreyko and Dranchuk were arrested at their offices by State Security Committee (KGB) officers, following their announcement to create an election monitoring group, in the perspective of the presidential elections that were to be held on March 19, 2006.

On March 1, 2006, the KGB Director, General Stepan Sukharenko, publicly declared on TV that they were organising fraudulent exit polls and planning a violent uprising after the election.

On March 2, 2006, they were charged with “organising and running and organisation that infringes the rights of citizens” under article 193.2 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. They were held in pre-trial custody at the KGB’s centre until their trial, on August 4, 2006. Their contacts with their lawyers were very limited during this period, and they were denied access to their family.

On August 4, 2006, Messrs. Astreyko, Dranchuk, Bronizkaya and Shalayko were sentenced by the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk for “illegal organisation of activities by an association or a foundation, or participation in their actions” under article 193.1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. The public, journalists and defendants’ relatives were denied access to the hearing.

Messrs. Bronizkaya and Shalayko were condemned to six months’ imprisonment each and were released on August 21, 2006, having served the full term of their sentences. Mr. Astreyko was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and Mr. Dranchuk to one year, and both appealed these sentences. They are currently detained incommunicado in the Department of Internal Affairs of the Minsk Executive Committee (Minsk city police), waiting for the decision of the Court of Appeal.

The Observatory fears for their physical and psychological integrity, as their state of health seems to have significantly deteriorated, due to the bad conditions of their detention.

The Observatory is also seriously concerned about these sentences, which are the first since the entry into force on January 1, 2006 of amendments to the Belarusian Criminal Code strengthening penal responsibility concerning “acts against people and public security” (See Observatory Annual Report 2005).

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of Belarus urging them to:
i. guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Nikolay Astreyko and Tsimofey Dranchuk, as well as all Belarusian human rights defenders;

ii. insofar as the charges against them are arbitrary, ensure that they be immediately released and that they be granted a fair and impartial trial;

iii. revise the Belarusian Criminal Code so as to conform with international and regional standards relative to freedoms of expression and association, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE);

iv. conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Humans Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and article 12.2 which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. more generally, conform with the provisions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and with all international and regional human rights instruments binding Belarus.


  • Mr. Aleksander Lukashenko, President of Belarus; Fax (+375 17) 2260610

  • Mr. Sergei Sidorsky, Prime Minister ; Fax (+375 17) 22 26 665
  • Mr. Viktor Golovanov, Minister of Justice ; Fax(+375 17) 20 08 687
  • Mr. Pyotr Miklashevich, General Prosecutor ; Fax (+375 17) 20 65 727
  • Ambassador Sergei Aleinik, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland, Email:, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51

  • Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Molière, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 340 02 87, Email:

Paris – Geneva, August 21, 2006

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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