250 protesters detained at Sunday local marches in Minsk
March of Neighbors was announced for November 29, repeating the successful format of the last Sunday’s protest, when security forces were disoriented and lacking resources. About thirty rallies were recorded across Belarus. Most of them took place in Minsk.
Instead of one massive rally, many smaller protests were assembling in all Minsk districts. It was puzzling for the police because they couldn’t use vehicles or water cannons inside courtyards. But they used stun grenades and tear gas. Also, they were disoriented since the columns didn’t have a specific route, so they had to rush from district to district. After the police attacks, the protesters ran away but quickly gathered again.
Since protests have become decentralized, more and more people can see them from their windows. Residents of many districts of Minsk witnessed the detention and dispersal of protesters. This time a well-known economist, member of the main staff of the Coordination Council Dmitry Kruk was also among the detainees.
The capital police said that about 250 people were detained at protests in Minsk. The «most active» were detained. According to the Viasna human rights center, more than 320 people were detained throughout the country.
«About 250 citizens have been detained for violating the legislation on mass events in Minsk, and they are being checked in accordance with the current legislation. During the week, the police officers identified more than 100 people who had previously taken part in the rallies, who were brought to responsibility established by law, including criminal liability,» the Minsk police said.
More than 100 scientists urged NAS management to stop firing employees for their beliefs
Belarusian scientists wrote an open letter to the leadership of the National Academy of Sciences with a call to abandon politically motivated dismissals and pressure on scientists, the press service of the Coordination Council reports. The authors also call for the reinstatement of employees who were fired for openly expressing their beliefs. The open letter was signed by over 100 scientists.
The management of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus did not renew the contract for seven employees. Five more scientists announced their resignation in solidarity. The institute’s deputy director, who signed the layoffs, says it’s not about politics.
On August 14, 49 employees of the Institute of History signed a statement in which they expressed no confidence in the election results announced, and demanded «to observe the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Belarus, immediately release all political prisoners and detained citizens of the country, stop torture, punish all those responsible for inciting social hostility in society, to disband the rally police, to transfer prisons and pre-trial detention centers to the subordination of the Ministry of Justice, to introduce the principle of election of judges.»
The names of the two dismissed employees were the first in the list of those who signed the statement in August. Of the seven people who were not renewed, four were detained this fall while attending protests. Also, two are members of the union leadership.
The National Bank anticipates risks of disconnection from SWIFT
Last week, the National Bank notified a number of commercial banks about the need to connect to the Russian system for transmitting financial messages SPFS Service Bureau, which is an analogue of SWIFT.
This proactive measure will come in handy for Belarusian banks if the threat of disconnection from SWIFT is realized.
The European Union is preparing a third, economic package of sanctions against the Belarusian authorities. If the scale of the forceful response to the protests is not reduced, then the reaction of the EU and the US will also be tough. Disconnecting Belarus from the SWIFT system as one of the extreme measures is being seriously discussed today. Such a step would mean a real economic war but is considered by the parties.
To date, seven Belarusian banks are already users of the SPFS Service Bureau, five more banks are at the final stage of connection. The remaining banks are considering this possibility.
Independent economist Leonid Fridkin predicts that if all Belarusian banks were disconnected from SWIFT, the country would actually find itself in financial isolation.
However, most likely, if the EU and US sanctions are implemented, Belarus will disconnect only the «backbone» state banks from SWIFT. This will also be a tangible blow because most of the state-owned enterprises are serviced by these banks. It will become much more difficult for enterprises to comply with the deadlines for completing foreign trade operations established in the country, the expert said.
Fridkin clarifies that SWIFT participants traditionally strive to remain neutral and negatively perceive proposals to impose sanctions. They have always feared that if the threat of disconnection from SWIFT is used as an instrument of political pressure, the rogue countries will be tempted to switch to alternative systems. Nobody wants to stimulate competitors. In this situation, the Belarusian regulator played ahead.
But there is also an alternative opinion. Mikhail Chepikov, a senior lecturer at the Economics Department of the Belarusian State University, believes that the probable disconnection of Belarus from SWIFT creates only higher uncertainty for the economy.
«There may be some rise in the cost of financial resources but nothing changes fundamentally in the economy,» Chepikov says.
SWIFT is an international interbank system for transferring information and making payments. It allows financial institutions around the world to send and receive information about financial transactions securely. Belarus has been a user of the SWIFT system since 1994.