2016 17/04

During the recent year Hrodna activists have been appealing for pickets several times. One of these them was Jezhy Hryhenchy application for holding a picket on the new housing utility tariffs. All applications were on social issues and were appealed to be held in approved local authority areas. However, all of them were banned.

The reasons for all the bans are the lack of agreements with the police, ambulance and community services.
Grodno City Executive Committee considered insufficient all the signed by the applicant obligations to pay for the required “services” if the rally was allowed to take place.

As the ideologist explained in the interview, he looked through all the requests for all the necessary supporting documents, namely the utility services, police and ambulance contracts, and in their absence he gave the standard answer.

The same standard reason is mentioned in the official ban of the event, which was signed by the deputy chairman of the executive committee Zoya Kulesh.

– Refusal to hold the picket on the new utility tariffs has been executed on formal grounds – the application was not accompanied by agreements with the police, ambulance and utility services. However, the procedure for concluding contracts with these organizations is not described in the legislation.

And how you can sign a contract for a service that has not yet been approved by the executive committee?

– It is a pity that the authorities use all possible formal reasons to deny my implementation of the right to hold peaceful mass action. After all, any discussion of a wide range of interested people is constructive and helps different parties to be heard, – Jezhy Gryhencha, one of the applicants, commented on the situation.

• Article 10 of the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” states that:

organizer of a mass event is obliged to make the payment of services for protection of public order, the costs of medical care and cleaning of the territory, in accordance with the decision of the local executive and administrative body, which provided the territory for a mass event not later than 10 days after the mass event.

Nowhere in the Act, as well as decisions of local authorities, is mentioned that contracts have to be concluded prior to the application to the local executive committee. And the executive committee gives the right to communicate with applicants until receiving a decision on the application for holding mass events, and during this communication it would be possible to find out and solve all questions about the contract.

However,  public activists were never invited to the Executive Committee during the consideration of their applications, despite the fact that the practice of such bans systematically violated their constitutional right!

In Grodno the situation with refusals to hold pickets repeated as well as across the whole country. Recently, a similar case was in Orsha.

Housing tariffs are mainly determined centrally, but there are numbers of positions, which are defined and received by the local authorities.

Therefore, the issue of utility tariffs, important for all citizens, should be discussed openly and with interest at all levels.

Aliaksandra Vasilevich,
BISH ILIA program graduate
at the Belarusian HRH n/a Barys Zvoskau

Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal
1) Aliaksandra Vasilevich (author), photo correction – BLP,
2) Zoya Kulesh (Deputy Chairman of the Hrodna City Executive Committee) – photo by Mikhas Isachanka (Haradzenskaya Prauda)
3) Jezhy Hryhencha, a citizen of Hrodna, photo from harodniaspring.org

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  1. AL Łapicki says:

    Comment: IT’S STRANGE! BUT today, a hairdresser was so confidently telling me about the freedom of peaceful assembly… as if she passed a special legal training course!))

    – It is our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, guaranteed by the state…! Why, then, for the expression of opinion without the permission of the officials people have been shamelessly fined?!…

    – Yes, of course! But why, in this case, for the possibility to get permission, for example for a rally, people also need to PAY the officials? Required services of police, medics and public utilities are PAID! And the requirement itself is just impossible, because it is legally absurd and contrary to the rules of these very state institutions, norms of the Civil Code, the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

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