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URGENT ACTION

 

BELARUS

 

March 26th   2008

 

Arbitrary detention

of human rights defenders

Pavel Levinov

 

a member of the Helsinki Committee in Belarus, Female Centre "Adliga" and the Youth Centre "Seventh Side".  

 

 

Source : FRONTLINE Defenders

 

 

 

Pavel Levinov is a human rights lawyer and a member of the Helsinki Committee in Belarus, Female Centre "Adliga" and the Youth Centre "Seventh Side".

On 26 March at 10.00am, Yelena Borshchevskaya was approached by three men in plain clothes at Vitebsk School No.39 where she works as a teacher. The men produced KGB identity cards and a search warrant and then ordered Yelena Borshchevskaya to bring them to her home. On route to her home she was prevented from using her mobile phone and her request to have a lawyer present was rejected. The men reportedly remarked that she could file a complaint regarding their actions afterwards. When they arrived at her apartment Yelena Borshchevskaya was unable to open the door, as ordered by the men, because she did not have her keys. When she requested that there be witnesses, the men call two soldiers in army uniform.

At midday, the KGB agents called a worker from the Local Housing Services and ordered him to open the door. When he refused they summoned someone from the Ministry for Emergency Situations who forced the door open. The men then entered the apartment and began their search. At 1.30pm, human rights lawyer Pavel Levinov arrived in order to be present during the search. The senior of the KGB agents, Major Skorionovich, accused him of “using foul language” and ordered his arrest. He was taken to Pervomayskiy district militia station. Whilst at the station, Pavel Levinov’s blood-pressure rose to dangerous levels and he was subsequently taken to hospital. On his release, Pavel Levinov initiated a dry hunger strike in protest at his treatment.

According to reports he has lost at least 12 kgs since he began the hunger strike 9 days ago.The KGB agents' search of the apartment lasted from 1.00pm until 7.00pm, during which time they reportedly confiscated equipment including computers, Dictaphones, scanners and a large photocopier, as well as information saved in documents and on cassettes and discs. The KGB agents stated that the search formed part of a criminal investigation.

Between 25 and 27 March 2008, raids were carried out on the offices of Adliga, and a considerable quantity of office furniture was confiscated without being recorded in official regulation confiscation reports. The raids were reportedly carried out by KGB agents and members of the Belarusian militia.

On 25 March 2008, at approximately 10.20am, Vadim Borshchevskiy was arrested on Lenin Street,in Vitebsk. Vadim Borshchevskiy was detained for two hours at Zheleznodorozhnyy district militia station before being released. There were no official records made of the arbitrary arrest and detention.

 

Your Excellency,

I am deeply concerned following the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders Vadim Borshchevskiy and Pavel Levinov; as well as raids on the apartment of human rights defenders Olga Karatch and Yelena Borshchevskaya and on the offices of the women's rights organisation Female Centre "Adliga". Vadim Borshchevskiy is a journalist and member of Female Centre "Adliga" and the Youth Centre "Seventh Side". Pavel Levinov is a human rights lawyer and a member of the Helsinki Committee in Belarus, Female Centre "Adliga" and the Youth Centre "Seventh Side". Olga Karatch is Head of the Female Centre "Adliga" and Yelena Borshchevskaya sits on the board.

Between 25 and 27 March 2008, raids were carried out on the offices of Adliga, and a considerable quantity of office furniture was confiscated without being recorded in official regulation confiscation reports. The raids were reportedly carried out by KGB agents and members of the Belarusian militia.

On 25 March 2008, at approximately 10.20am, Vadim Borshchevskiy was arrested on Lenin Street,in Vitebsk. Vadim Borshchevskiy was detained for two hours at Zheleznodorozhnyy district militia station before being released. There were no official records made of the arbitrary arrest and detention.

On 26 March at 10.00am, Yelena Borshchevskaya was approached by three men in plain clothes at Vitebsk School No.39 where she works as a teacher. The men produced KGB identity cards and a search warrant and then ordered Yelena Borshchevskaya to bring them to her home. On route to her home she was prevented from using her mobile phone and her request to have a lawyer present was rejected. The men reportedly remarked that she could file a complaint regarding their actions afterwards. When they arrived at her apartment Yelena Borshchevskaya was unable to open the door, as ordered by the men, because she did not have her keys. When she requested that there be witnesses, the men call two soldiers in army uniform.

At midday, the KGB agents called a worker from the Local Housing Services and ordered him to open the door. When he refused they summoned someone from the Ministry for Emergency Situations who forced the door open. The men then entered the apartment and began their search. At 1.30pm, human rights lawyer Pavel Levinov arrived in order to be present during the search. The senior of the KGB agents, Major Skorionovich, accused him of “using foul language” and ordered his arrest. He was taken to Pervomayskiy district militia station. Whilst at the station, Pavel Levinov’s blood-pressure rose to dangerous levels and he was subsequently taken to hospital. On his release, Pavel Levinov initiated a dry hunger strike in protest at his treatment.

According to reports he has lost at least 12 kgs since he began the hunger strike 9 days ago.The KGB agents' search of the apartment lasted from 1.00pm until 7.00pm, during which time they reportedly confiscated equipment including computers, Dictaphones, scanners and a large photocopier, as well as information saved in documents and on cassettes and discs. The KGB agents stated that the search formed part of a criminal investigation. The search runs counter to Belarusian law which stipulates that witnesses must first be called for interrogation before their property is searched and prohibits the forced entry into people's homes.

I believe that Vadim Borshchevskiy, Pavel Levinov, Olga Karatch and Yelena Borshchevskaya have been targeted as a result of their human rights activities. I am concerned for the security and physical and psychological integrity of the abovementioned defenders, as well as that of all members of Female Centre "Adliga".

I call on the Belarusian authorities to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders Vadim Borshchevskiy and Pavel Levinov; as well as raids on the apartment of human rights defenders Olga Karatch and Yelena Borshchevskaya and on the offices of the women's rights organisation Female Centre "Adliga", with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of Vadim Borshchevskiy,Pavel Levinov, Olga Karatch and Yelena Borshchevskaya, as well as that of all members of Female Centre "Adliga";

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and human rights organisations in Belarus are free to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals.

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

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