Unknown Belarusian human rights organizations appear in Brussels and Strasbourg


Human right activist Alena Tankachova was surprised to find out that our civil community was much bigger than she thought! She discovered it during her recent visit to a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

Alena Tankachova: “A person represented the human rights organization Public Association for Protection of Human Rights there. According to him, the organization was created in Brest State University over 10 years ago and united representatives of the academic community – teachers of law and arts.”

Nobody has heard about the organization before. Even Google didn’t help. It would not be strange if the organization was a state one, Tankachova said. However, Alyaksei Tratstsyakou who represented the Public Association in Strasbourg claimed that it was an NGO.

Euroradio found the strange organization Public Association for Protection of Human Rights in Brest. Its head is Ivan Kotler, a teacher form Pushkin Brest University. It was created in 1996. But its activity is…

Ivan Kotler: “It (the organization, – Euroradio’s note) is promoting education in the field of human rights. It helps organize annual seminars and conferences at our university.”

But it is a republican organization! Kotler made a brave decision after another re-election of the head of this “human rights” organization a few months ago:

“We decided that the organization should also offer legal assistance and solve information issues.”

The idea came to his mind without anybody’s hints, he said. It seems that the presence of a representative of the Public Association in Strasbourg is the first step on the way to the reorganization. But why a new member of the steering committee was chosen for it instead of the head of the organization?

Ivan Kotler: “Well, it does not depend on us I guess… maybe he was sent by the Ministry of Foreign affairs…”

The unknown “human rights” organization attended the meeting of the Council of Europe because European officials are looking for “a compromise representation of the Belarusian civil community”, Tankachova thinks.

Alena Tankachova: “We will see more false organizations with false goals in the future and we should be ready for it.”

 The human rights activist is indignant because they “are hiding” behind the notion of a non-governmental organization: they should better admit that they represent governmental organizations and support the regime’s position in discussions.