Accessibility links

Breaking News


Polish NGO worker Magdalena Kalinowska
MAHILEU, Belarus -- A Polish citizen working for an NGO has been ordered to leave Belarus by November 16, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Magdalena Kalinowska has been employed by the NGO Fundacją Institutum Orientalium in the eastern city of Mahileu since August, helping Belarusian entrepreneurs apply for training programs in Poland.

On November 11, the Migration Department in Mahileu summoned her and held her for almost four hours. She was told that she was found guilty of violating laws on foreigners' residence and ordered to leave Belarus by November 16.

Belarusian migration officials said Kalinowska has been living in an apartment different from the one where she was officially registered, which they called a "serious violation."

Kalinowska was told she may not return to Belarus before November 16, 2014, because of the violation.

Kalinowska told RFE/RL that she did not understand why she is being treated so harshly. She said she did not know she had to reregister at the migration center in Mahileu after moving to a new apartment.

Kalinowska said she loves Belarus and Belarusians and would be happy to work in the country again in the future. She said she has talked to the Polish consul about her situation, and it recommended she file an official complaint against the migration center's decision. But Kalinowska said there is no hope that a complaint would help her to stay.

Kalinowska said, "complicated political relations between Poland and Belarus" probably played a role in the authorities' decision to deport her.

The Fundacją Institutum Orientalium is a Polish NGO engaged in developing relations between the countries of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Asia.

Read more in Belarusian here
Friends and relatives pay their last respects to lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in pretrial detention in 2009.
WASHINGTON -- Two U.S. senators have urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to reconsider allowing the visit of two Russian officials allegedly involved in the prosecution and prison death of anticorruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

In letter dated November 8 that was obtained by RFE/RL, Senators Benjamin Cardin (Democrat-Maryland) and Roger Wicker (Republican-Mississippi) urged Clinton to “immediately review any visa applications” submitted by Russian Interior Ministry Generals Tatiana Gerasimova and Nikolai Shelepanov.

The officials are due to arrive in Washington early next week to discuss Moscow’s record of enforcing intellectual property rights, which U.S. trade officials have described as a major stumbling block to deeper economic cooperation.

The senators told Clinton that Gerasimova and Shelepanov are "involved in the cynical and sweeping cover-up of the torture and murder of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky as well as the corruption he exposed."

"While safeguarding intellectual property is a laudable goal and one that we share, we are troubled at the prospect of collaborating on this or any issue with those whose good faith and goodwill are so seriously and publicly compromised," the letter says.

Magnitsky was arrested by authorities in 2008 after a case he was working on for the London-based Hermitage Capital Management implicated top officials from Russia's Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, and other agencies in a massive scheme to defraud the government.

The 37-year-old lawyer died in November 2009 after nearly a year in pretrial detention, during which he was repeatedly denied medical care and physically abused.

The senators' letter says that the Russian officials' visit to Washington would be "a bitter irony given the proximity to the second anniversary of Magnitsky's death."

Speaking on the floor of the Senate on the day the letter was submitted, Wicker described Magnitsky's ordeal and urged the Obama administration not to ignore Russia's troubling rights record in its dealings with Moscow.

"We in the Senate should be standing in support of the principled, fearless Russian citizens who have the courage to expose these corrupt abuses -- [and] to expose the brutality and thuggery of their own Russian government," he said. "I urge President [Barack] Obama [and] I urge Secretary Clinton to make human rights and [the] rule of law in Russia a central part of our efforts to reset bilateral relations."

In July, under pressure from Congressmen, the State Department imposed visa bans on dozens of Russian officials connected to the Magnitsky case -- a move that provoked the ire of Moscow.

Twenty-five U.S. senators have also sponsored a bill in the Senate that would both ban visas for and freeze the assets of some 60 Russian officials connected to the case.

-- Richard Solash

Load more

About This Blog

"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


Journalists In Trouble

RFE/RL journalists take risks, face threats, and make sacrifices every day in an effort to gather the news. Our "Journalists In Trouble" page recognizes their courage and conviction, and documents the high price that many have paid simply for doing their jobs. More