IIHF deprived Belarus of the right to host the Ice Hockey World Championship
On January 18, members of the Council of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) made the final decision on the transfer of the 2021 World Cup from Belarus, the organization’s official website reports.
A press release has been published on the IIHF website explaining this decision.
«Due to safety and security issues that are beyond the IIHF’s control, the IIHF Council confirmed today that the decision to move the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from Minsk, Belarus is unavoidable. The decision was reached by the Council following the conclusion of an extensive due diligence process.
The IIHF has a duty of care to all Championship participants. As such, IIHF Bylaw 9 provides the IIHF Council the ability to withdraw an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from a hosting nation if there is the reason for concern that the well-being or the safe freedom of movement of the players, officials, traveling spectators and media is in doubt.
Therefore, the IIHF Council has conducted a fair and unbiased due diligence process whereby independent experts and all stakeholders were consulted on the viability of holding the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus in the face of the growing safety and security concerns related to both the rising political unrest and COVID-19. The final stage of the IIHF Council due diligence process was meeting with the Belarusian government last week and the commissioning of a further independent expert report.
Taking into consideration everything the IIHF Council learned during the due diligence process, the IIHF Council has determined that it is currently impossible to ensure the welfare of teams, spectators, and officials while holding a World Championship in Belarus.»
“It is a very regrettable thing to have to remove the Minsk/Riga co-hosting bid,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “During this process, we had tried to promote that the World Championship could be used as a tool for reconciliation to help calm the socio-political issues happening in Belarus and find a positive way forward.”
The press release also says that it will be decided in the near future who will hold the championship instead of Belarus. It is known at the moment that the tournament can be held either only in Latvia, or in two countries - Latvia and Denmark or Latvia and Slovakia.
The championship was to be co-hosted by Riga and Minsk from May 21 to June 6, 2021. Latvia refused to host the championship together with Belarus in September. This was also opposed by IIHF Vice President Kalervo Kummola.
At the end of November, IIHF heard a report from the expert committee. The Federation was worried about the safety of attendees and fans and skepticism about official reports of the number of cases of COVID-19 since September 2020 and the extent of government measures taken to suppress the pandemic.
On January 11, Rene Fasel came to Belarus, where he met with Alexander Lukashenko. This was followed by a videoconference of the IIHF Council. According to Kummola, Fazel was able to come to an agreement with Lukashenko only on insignificant points, so holding the tournament in Belarus was unlikely. Soon, the IIHF president also announced that it would be very difficult to host the championship in Minsk.
In November, the independent platform Golos conducted a poll, following which 90 percent of Belarusians spoke out against the holding of the championship in Minsk in the current circumstances. At the end of last week, Skoda, Nivea, and Liqui Moly refused to sponsor the tournament if it takes place in Belarus.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and Alexandra Gerasimenya on the IIHF decision
Former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya commented on the IIHF decision on her Telegram channel.
“Today the IIHF Council announced the moving of the Ice Hockey World Championship. This is a victory because there will be no additional wave of repression for the sake of ‘cleansing’ the city before the World Championship. This is a victory because Lukashenko failed to pretend that he had everything under control. This is a victory because the Belarusians achieved their goal and they did it together.
This is what happens when people unite. I believe that together we are able to free political prisoners and prevent our country from being turned into a ‘concentration camp’. Dear Belarusians, together we will return the law and fair elections. And then we will gladly hold the championship and invite all our international partners and friends, who have grown much this year, to visit it,” Tikhanovskaya says on her Telegram channel.
The head of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Fund Aleksandra Gerasimenya told SPORT.TUT.BY why, in her opinion, the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship was initially impossible in Minsk.
“Firstly, we observed the situation in Belarus and understood that holding the World Cup in Minsk at the moment is unsafe for fans, players, and everyone present. Before the 2014 IIHF World Championship, Minsk saw a wave of arrests and detentions. Therefore, we understand what scale the repression would have acquired now in order to clean up the streets and hold the event quietly and calmly. Thousands of Belarusians would have ended up in prisons.
The second point is the violation of human rights. We believe that such a major international tournament cannot be held in a country where the human rights given to us at birth are not respected.
Third, the holding of the World Championship in Minsk could become a PR campaign for one person, legitimization and confirmation of Lukashenko’s power, recognition of him as a leader. He would have been meeting the guests as an organizer and, perhaps, even awarding medals to the winners, which is unacceptable.
But the most important thing that we relied on when lobbying for the moving of the hockey championship from Minsk is the desire of the Belarusians.”
KGB transferred Belgazprombank case to the Prosecutor General’s Office
The Investigative Department of the KGB transferred the criminal case against top managers of Belgazprombank to the Prosecutor General’s Office for submission to the court. The accused and the lawyers are familiar with the materials of the criminal case.
None of the accused, with the exception of Viktor Babariko, filed a motion to terminate the criminal prosecution on the grounds provided for by the Criminal Code, as well as to carry out additional investigative actions.
The preventive measure against the accused has remained the same. Seven people, including Viktor Babariko, are in custody, and one is under house arrest.
Viktor Babariko, who headed Belgazprombank before the presidential campaign, is accused of receiving grand bribes by an organized group, as well as grand laundering money obtained by criminal means.
Babariko was arrested on June 18, 2020. Several other people were also detained in the case, including Babariko’s son Eduard.
The KGB claims that the top managers of Belgazprombank who are involved in the case have admitted their guilt. Viktor Babariko refused to plead himself guilty.
The founder of Belita Viktor Tereshchenko died
At the age of 83, the general director of Vitex CJSC Viktor Tereshchenko passed away. He stood at the origins of the creation of Belarusian cosmetics and was one of those who set a successful example of cooperation with foreign partners. Recently, the businessman has been struggling with coronavirus infection.
Belita was the first joint venture in Belarus. The joint Soviet - Italian enterprise Belita was established in November 1989. Director of the Belbytkomplekt enterprise Viktor Tereshchenko was elected president of the board. Belbytkomplekt (currently Vitex CJSC) was the founder on the Belarusian side, and on the Italian side was the company for the production of cosmetics GVF. The Italian side provided the supply of equipment and handed over the formulas of several cosmetics, the Belarusian side provided the new enterprise with personnel and production facilities.
In 1995, the first products were released under the Vitex trademark. Currently, the companies Belita and Vitex are closely intertwined with each other in marketing, development, and promotion.
Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images