Valiantsin Stefanovich: Fake human rights activists cannot change Europe’s stance

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The “human rights organisations” created by the authorities do not hinder the West to assess the real human rights situation in Belarus.

Valiantsin Stefanovich, a deputy head of Viasna human rights centre, spoke to charter97.org about opening fake human rights organisations by the Belarusian authorities.

“Our authorities already made several attempts to send representatives of the authorities-created NGOs to international forums. Heads of regional bar associations were invited to an OSCE conference. They were presented as NGO members, but said the same things as the delegation from official Minsk said,” the lawyer noted.

In the recent incident, the Belarusian authorities tried a more sophisticated approach and brought the organisation, which is formally non-governmental.

“It is a question for Europe why they invite these people. Perhaps they think it is a non-governmental organisation or an academic association. Maybe it was an attempt to bring balance to the delegations. I remember another example. Aleh Hulak and I attended an event on invitation of the Council of Europe. The same event was attended by a representative of the Union of Women, who also was a deputy head of the Constitutional Court of Belarus. Perhaps the West supposes it creates pluralism. It’s not necessary that an NGO should take a critical stance on the official authorities. No problem, but what concerns the situation in Belarus, it looks absolutely different,” the human rights defender thinks.

He stressed the the countries of the Central Asia and Azerbaijan have been using this practice for a long time. Europe invites advocates for the authorities and some of these organisations even received financial aid from abroad.

“Belarus didn’t need such methods for a long time. Our authorities are not so delicate: they just apply pressure when needed. Perhaps the process will develop, but I would’t say it is wide-spread now. It was not a single case, however. Europeans perfectly understood who it was. They just wanted to spoke to representatives of official Minsk. Such organisations do not hinder to assess the human rights situation in Belarus,” Valiantsin Stafanovich is confident.

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