Tag Archives: protests

Kazakhstan: Borrell calls for restraint

Brussels 09.01.2022 Anna van Densky “We are concerned by the violence which has erupted, following peaceful protests, in Kazakhstan, which is an important partner for the European Union, with an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in force, and for the stability of the region” reads the Declaration by High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the situation Kazakhstan.(Image: social media).

“We deeply regret the loss of life and strongly condemn the widespread acts of violence. It is important to prevent further escalations, to avoid any incitement to violence, to exercise restraint at all times, and to avoid exploitation of unrest for other purposes.

“We stand ready to provide assistance for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Outside military support should respect the sovereignty and independence of Kazakhstan as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens.

“We urge Kazakhstan’s authorities to uphold their commitments at this challenging time, including respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their citizens, particularly, the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and of the media”.

More than 160 people were killed and 5,000 arrested in Kazakhstan after the riots that shook Central Asia’s largest country over the past week. The interior ministry, quoted on Sunday, January 9, by local media, said initial estimates put property damage at about 175 million euros ($198m) after the wide-spread violence.

Kazakhstan: killed protesters in morgues

Brussels 06.01.2022 “Dozens” of protesters were killed by police on Wednesday night, 5-6 January, as they tried to seize administrative buildings in Kazakhstan, police said.

“Last night, extremist forces tried to storm administrative buildings, the Almaty city police department, as well as local departments and police stations,” police spokesman Saltanat Azirbek was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Kazakhstan, TASS and Ria Novosti agencies.

!!! WARNING! DISTURBING GRAPHIC!!!

“Dozens of assailants have been eliminated and their identities are being identified,” he added.

Azirbek said an “anti-terrorist” operation was underway in one of the districts of Almaty, the economic capital of the Central Asian country, where the riots were most violent.

The announcement comes after the arrival in the country of peacekeeping troops from a Russian-led military alliance (Collective Security Treaty Organization -CSTO) following a request from the President Tokayev as anti-government protests continued.

Demonstrations across Kazakhstan started on Sunday, January 2, over a near-doubling of liquid gas prices widely used for cars, but have since grown to include other grievances including poor living conditions in some areas, as well as 30 years under the rule of the same party since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kazakhstan: President Tokayev vows to stay

Brussels 06.01.2022 Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in his televised address to the nation vowed to stay in the capital no matter what as it is his duty under the Constitution to be together with the people.
“No matter what, I will stay in the capital. This is my duty under the Constitution to be together with the people. We will overcome this dark period in Kazakhstan’s history. We will come out of it being strong,” Tokayev said.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that he remains committed to consistent reforms and will soon present proposals for the political transformation of the country.

“Soon I will present new proposals for the political transformation of Kazakhstan. I maintain the same position of consistent reforms,” he said.

Kazakhstan has been engulfed by protests for the fourth day in a row. The protests flared up on January 2 in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangystau Region, in southwestern Kazakhstan, and then swept across other centers.

The President imposed a two-week state of emergency in the Mangystau Region and in the Almaty Region, as well as the republic’s largest city of Almaty and the capital Nur-Sultan. On January 5, the head of the state also accepted the government’s resignation.

The demands of the crowds are sounding increasingly political, according to reports from the region.
However they began with something very pointed: the price of liquified petroleum gas, or LPG, the fuel that many use to power their cars.

Kazakhstan in state of emergency

Brussels 06.01.2022 The law-enforcement personnel have launched a special counter-terror operation in Almaty where chaos and looting continues, the Almaty commandant’s office reported on Wednesday, January 5. (Image: social media).

“A special counter-terror operation has been launched in the city to establish order,” the statement reads.

The commandant’s office also called on Almaty residents “to remain calm and render assistance to the law-enforcement agencies in establishing the Constitutional order and public security.”

As the statement says, “radically-minded supporters of riots have caused huge damage to the city, put up resistance to the legitimate actions of law-enforcement agencies for establishing order and providing security.”

The commandant’s office also reported that “the extremists are on a looting spree, causing damage to business.” Moreover, “they are endangering the lives and health of civilians, obstructing the work of medical workers and causing damage to polyclinics and hospitals.”

“Bandits who are on the rampage in Almaty are highly organised, which is evidence that they were seriously trained abroad” and “their attack on Kazakhstan is an act of aggression and an attempt to disrupt the state’s integrity,” the text continues.

Protests have been raging in Kazakhstan for the fourth day in a row. On January 2, crowds took to the streets in the cities of Zhanaozen and Aktau in the Mangistau region in the country’s southwest, protesting against fuel price hikes.

Two days later, riots erupted in Almaty where police used stun grenades to disperse crowds and also in other cities, in particular, in Atyrau and Aktobe, Uralsk, Taraz, Shymkent and Kyzylorda, Karaganda and in the capital of Nur-Sultan.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev earlier declared a state of emergency in the Mangistau and Almaty regions and also in Almaty and Nur-Sultan for two weeks. After that, a state of emergency was declared on the entire territory of Kazakhstan. On January 5, the head of the Kazakh state dismissed the government.

Its members continue discharging their duties until a new Cabinet is approved.

Navalny: Russia press arrests

The extraordinary figure of more than 50 arrests of reporters, some of whom were subjected to police violence, is based on data compiled by the specialised news website OVD-Info, the Russian Journalists and Media Workers Union (JMWU) and information gathered directly by RSF.

“The police deliberately targeted certain media, going so far as to try to enter a private apartment, to cut off a video feed of the demonstrations, and in a sign of the totally disproportionate nature of the crackdown, even clearly-identified reporters wearing ‘press’ vests or armbands were held for several hours,” said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“The aim was clearly to prevent them from showing the scale of support for a government opponent. We call on the Russian authorities to end this blatant obstruction of the freedom to inform and we urge the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Teresa Ribeiro, to condemn the violence and arbitrary arrests. We also call on the European Union to adopt new sanctions against Russian officials.”

Multiple obstructions of the right to inform
Dozhd (Rain TV), an independent TV channel that is experienced in providing live coverage of demonstrations, was censored in mid-transmission when police cut the power supply to a Moscow apartment from which a Dozhd crew was broadcasting and then arrested reporter Aleksei Korostelev and cameraman Sergei Novikov on the pretext of verifying their identity. Another Dozhd journalist, Eduard Birmistrov, was arrested in Saint Petersburg although he was wearing a yellow vest and had his press card around his neck.

Cases of police deliberately obstructing journalists were filmed or reported throughout the day. They included the filmed arrest of Ivan Petrov, a reporter for the photo agency Tardigrada in Saint Petersburg, and the arrest of The Insider reporter Vera Ryabitskaya, who was beaten with a baton and dragged by her hair into a police van.

In Moscow, riot police hit Elizaveta Kirpanova, a reporter for the independent triweekly Novaya Gazeta, with their batons for several minutes, dealing some of the blows to her head, although she was clearly identifiable by her “press” vest and badge, while a baton blow smashed the camera lens of her photographer colleague Viktoria Odisonova.

Ekaterina Grobman, a reporter for VTimes, an independent news website recently founded by journalists who used to work for the daily newspaper Vedomosti, was hit when being arrested despite her “press” badge. Police also used violence against two journalists with the leading Riga-based news site Meduza, beating Kristina Safonova as she was filming a protest and grabbing Evgenyi Feldman by the neck. Nikita Stupin, a reporter for the AvtokazLive website, was tasered.
The police had already tried to intimidate journalists and media outlets in the run-up to the 23 January demonstrations in support for Navalny, who was arrested on his arrival in Russia on 17 January after several months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attempt. Navalny’s team has called for more protests on 31 January.
Russia is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Belarus: EU “ready” for additional sanctions

Brussels 13.11.2020 The EU Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy made a statement on the tragic death of Mr.Bandarenka caused by police brutality.

“On 12 November, 31-year old Raman Bandarenka died after several hours of surgery in a hospital in Minsk due to serious injuries caused, according to reports, by the brutality of plain clothed policemen. This is an outrageous and shameful result of the actions by the Belarusian authorities who have not only directly and violently carried out repression of their own population, but also created an environment whereby such lawless, violent acts can take place, thus ignoring not only the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Belarusian people but also disregarding their lives. The European Union expresses its deepest condolences to Mr Bandarenka’s family and friends”.

“The EU stands in solidarity with all the Belarusians who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of the Belarusian authorities in the aftermath of the 9 August falsified presidential elections.The EU continues to strongly condemn violence employed by the Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, persons engaged in the pro-democracy movement, independent media, representatives of civil society or ordinary Belarusian citizens. We expect the authorities to end the violence and persecution, to release immediately and unconditionally all arbitrarily detained persons, including political prisoners, and to investigate fully and transparently all human rights violations and abuses, and hold those responsible to account. The European Union has already imposed sanctions on 55 individuals responsible for violent repression and intimidation, and stands ready to impose additional sanctions”.

Raman Bandarenka was detained at Square of Change on November 11. According to Belsat, the protestor was taken to the hospital with a closed craniocerebral injury, acute subdural head hematomas, brain hemorrhage. Roman has fallen into a coma, and later was declared dead.

After the news about the death of Bandarenka, thousands of Minsk citizens started to bring flowers and icon lamps to the Square of Change. The spontaneous memorials and vigils in his honour were created in many cities of Belarus, as well as at entrances the Belarusian embassies in Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine, where people continued to bring flowers and candels.

EU regrets Lukashenko demands

“The demand of the Belarusian authorities that Poland and Lithuania withdraw their ambassadors and significantly reduce their diplomatic representations in Minsk is unfounded and regrettable. It goes against the logic of dialogue and will only further isolate the authorities in Minsk” reads the statement of the EU lead spokesperson.

“Attempts by the Belarusian authorities to target certain EU Member States will not succeed in weakening EU unity, which was clearly reaffirmed by the European Council on 1 October when all EU Member States called on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detainees and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue” 

“The EU continues to support the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their President through new free and fair elections, without external interference” the statement concludes.

Belarus authorities announced sanctions against the European Union on October 2 in retaliation to restrictive measures agreed by European leaders hours before over the sham presidential election.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s statement accused the EU of “striving towards the deterioration of relations with us” and imposed its own set of sanctions against the bloc.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 2 he was sure the problems that had emerged in Belarus after the presidential elections would be settled soon, the Kremlin press service said after his telephone conversation with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.

“The presidents also discussed various aspects of the post-election situation in Belarus in the context of the ongoing attempts of outside interference. Confidence was expressed that the current problems will soon be settled,” the press service said, adding that the telephone conversation was initiated by the Belarusian side.

EU condemns Belarus arbitrary detentions

“We strongly condemn the unabating arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus that have been taking place since the start of the pre-presidential election campaign. Most recently, Maria Kalesnikova, Andrei Yahorau, Irina Sukhiy, Anton Radniankou, and Ivan Krautsou have all been targeted, while 633 people were detained following Sunday’s peaceful Unity March. It is clear that the State authorities in Belarus continue to intimidate or allow intimidation of its citizens in an increasingly lawless way and crudely violate both their own domestic laws and international obligations” reads the statement by the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell on arbitrary and unexplained arrests and detentions on political grounds in Belarus.

“The EU expects the Belarusian authorities to ensure the immediate release of all detained on political grounds before and after the falsified 9 August presidential elections.

“Civil society and actors engaged in discussions on the future of Belarus, including members of the Coordination Council, must be protected from intimidation, forced exile, arbitrary arrest and violence. The rule of law and justice must prevail and a thorough and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses must take place, in order to hold those responsible to account.

“We expect the authorities to stop political persecution and engage in an inclusive national dialogue, in full respect of the Belarusian people’s democratic and fundamental rights.

“The EU will impose sanctions on individuals responsible for violence, repression and falsification of election results”.

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

Transparency: Lukashenko betrays people

“Transparency International is horrified by the violent attacks, arbitrary arrests and brutal repression unleashed by the Government of Alexander Lukashenko against peaceful protesters in Belarus. We stand in solidarity with the people of Belarus who have shown incredible courage through their peaceful resistance to the country’s authoritarian regime since Sunday’s unfair election” reads the statement of the organisation.

“We are calling on the international community to come together in this critical moment and step up support to the people of Belarus through all diplomatic and political means available’

“This is a critical tool that may help end government violence against its own people. We are calling on other governments to urgently review their own tools to protect the people of Belarus”.

“Individual sanctions in the form of asset freezes and travel bans against those perpetrating or aiding violence have the potential to hurt the authoritarian regime at the highest level and encourage them to listen to the clear demands of the people” Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said.

“Protests broke out in Minsk and other cities after Alexander Lukashenko, president for 26 years, claimed victory by a landslide over his opponent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya in elections mired in allegations of vote rigging and widely dismissed for not being free or fair.

“Alexander Lukashenko was elected by the people of Belarus in 1994 on an anti-corruption platform. He has betrayed his mandate and the trust of his people on many occasions during his 26 years as president,” said Oksana Drebezova, Transparency International’s national contact in Belarus.

“We are out in the streets – everybody who has courage and strength – to show that we will not stand another stolen election. Government has responded by unleashing riot police, mass detentions and violence, suppressing protesters rights and freedoms,” added Drebezova.

“Two people have died. Since Sunday, 6,700 people – including journalists – have been detained, some of whom have now been released. Shocking reports of torture, beatings, threats of rape and humiliation of detainees have been emerging.

“The unprecedented brutality that the government has committed against its own people must cease immediately.

“Transparency International has condemned the violence against peaceful protesters in Belarus and called on the government to enter into dialogue with the opposition on a peaceful way forward for the country.

“Elections in Belarus were neither free nor fair. Rather than committing acts of violence against its citizens, including the arrests of journalists and activists, the government should enter into dialogue to solve this crisis,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International.

“Once the crisis is over, Lukashenko and his regime must answer for the acts of violence and gross breaches of universal human rights in European and international courts,” continued Ferreira Rubio.

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