СТОП 193.1!

Гэтая старонка прысьвечаная грамадзкай кампаніі за скасаваньне артыкула 193.1 КК РБ, які супярэчыць Канстытуцыі Рэспублікі Беларусь і міжнародным абавязкам, узятым на сябе нашай краінай. Кампанія ініцыяваная Асамблеяй няўрадавых дэмакратычных арганізацыяў...


Bah! Humbug! Santa Clauses stopped from entering Parliament


     Minsk, Belarus

December 22, 2009

Today, 20 Belarusian civic activists, dressed as Santa Clauses (Ded Moroz), Snegurochki (granddaughters) and Christmas bunnies, attempted to deliver to Parliament an appeal to cancel Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, which makes it illegal to work for an unregistered organization, such as Santa's North Pole operation. But at the Parliament, a security detail in plainclothes blocked the merry messengers from entering the building. Only one Snegurochka (Alona Valynets) and two human right defenders (Valer Shchukin and Pavel Leonau) were allowed into Parliament. In the entrance hall, Valer Shchukin was attacked by three men not wearing any costumes. Snegurochka Valynets was denied her legal right to officially file an appeal, which she carried with her wrapped in a bow. Instead, she was forced to leave the present in the Parliament's mail box. We hope it will be delivered, since our authorities seem to lack both holiday and civic spirit.

The original plan was that Santa's team would register an appeal to the Parliament on behalf of the Santa Claus movement, following legal procedures. Snegurochki and the bunnies were motivated to lodge an appeal by the threat that the Santa Clauses might be arrested for being part of an unregistered movement. But our Members of Parliament went on holiday vacation without taking up the question of annulling Article 193.1. So our Santa Clauses can be arrested at any moment and the holidays might never come to Belarus!

The appeal declares: “The Belarusian public is concerned with the possibility of the arrests of Ded Moroz, Snegoruschka, bunny boys and snowflake girls because their joint activities of organizing public Christmas and New Year festivities might be construed by law enforcement agencies as being illegal by violating Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code.”

The first warning signals threatening our Santa Clauses came from Vitebsk where, like Scrooge, the city authorities prohibited Pavel Leonau, a representative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and one of Santa Clauses, from distributing Christmas presents.

Today's holiday festivities were part of the civic campaign “Stop 193.1”, organized by the Belarusian Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs. As Alona Valynets, a participant and organizer of today's event, explained, “the goal of today's performance was to draw public attention to the absurdity of Article 193.1. And we achieved this goal. Sadly, our Belarusian officials lack a sense of humor. They used special forces to defend themselves from a dozen Snegurochki and Christmas rabbits. I doubt they will get any presents this Christmas from the real Santa Claus, not unless they cancel the infamous article.”

But to all of you reading this press release, we hope that your Santa Clauses deliver a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


More information about the “Stop 193.1” Campaign can be found at: http://193.belngo.info/view.pl/english