Condolences to President of the Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

The message reads, in part:
“A crime committed against civilians who had congregated for church services is shocking in its cynicism and cruelty. I expect that the masterminds and perpetrators of this crime will sustain the punishment they deserve.
I would like to reiterate our readiness to further step up interaction with our Philippine partners in combating the terrorist threat in all its forms and manifestations.
People in Russia share the grief of the victims’ friends and families and hope for a prompt recovery of the injured.”


Condolences to President of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolences to President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jair Messias Bolsonaro in connection with the tragic aftermath of the disaster in Minas Gerais.
The President of Russia conveyed his deepest sympathy and support to the victim’s friends and families and his hope for a speedy recovery of the injured.


Vladimir Putin will visit St Petersburg on January 27

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

The President will lay flowers at the Landmark Stone memorial in the Leningrad Region and the Motherland monument at Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery.
The President will also tour an anniversary display organised by the Lenrezerv patriotic association and will attend a show concert “Listen, country, this is Leningrad speaking” at Oktyabrsky Grand Concert Hall.


Greetings on the Opening of St Petersburg Ladies Trophy 2019 tournament

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

The message reads, in part:
“This year, the tournament once again brings together at the famous Sibur Arena many guests and devoted tennis fans who will cheer for the athletes they love, and support this honest, fair and beautiful sport. They will see famous women tennis players on the court, including winners in the most prominent international tournaments who are true stars. It is very important that this event has always been popular among young people, since the future of tennis both in Russia and across the world is in the hands of the younger generation.”


BMW Motorsport mourns the loss of Charly Lamm.

Source: BMW Group – English

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PressClub Global · Article.

Fri Jan 25 18:33:58 CET 2019 Press Release

BMW Motorsport mourns the loss of Charly Lamm. The long-standing team principal of BMW Team Schnitzer passed away on 24th January 2019 unexpectedly after a very short and grave illness at 63 years of age.

Munich. BMW Motorsport mourns the loss of Charly Lamm. The long-standing team principal of BMW Team Schnitzer passed away on 24th January 2019 unexpectedly after a very short and grave illness at 63 years of age.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt:
“Totally unexpectedly we received the news from the Lamm family that Charly Lamm died on Thursday. Our sincere condolences go to the Lamm family and the Schnitzer family. It is incredibly difficult to accept that Charly is no longer with us. He had a significant impact on racing at BMW for decades, celebrated major successes with his team, and wowed fans around the world with his unique passion for racing. Losing him so suddenly is a shock and a tragedy – particularly because Charly was just about to start a brand new chapter of his life. We mourn the loss of a character who was both valued and loved internationally, who will always be closely linked with BMW Motorsport. Thank you for everything Charly. We will miss you forever.”

At both the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) and the ABB FIA Formula E Championship race in Santiago (CHL), the BMW teams will compete in memory of Charly Lamm.

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BMW Group Streaming.
Los Angeles. 28.11.2018. Here you will see the on demand transmission of the BMW Press Conference at the LA Auto Show.
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CO2 emission information.
The following applies to consumption figures for vehicles with new type approval, September 2017 onward: The figures for fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and energy consumption are obtained in accordance with the specified measuring procedure (EC Regulation No. 715/2007), as issued and amended. The figures are for a basic-version vehicle in Germany. The bandwidths allow for differences in the choice of wheel and tire sizes and items of optional equipment and can be changed by the configuration.Obtained on the basis of the new “Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure” (WLTP), the figures are converted back to the “New European Driving Cycle” (NEDC) for the sake of comparability. Values other than those stated here may be used for the purposes of taxation and for other vehicle-related duties relating to CO2 emissions.More information about official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be obtained from the “guideline on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and current consumption of new passenger cars”, available here:


Greetings to Golden Eagle National Film Awards

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

The message reads, in part:
“2018 saw several premieres of outstanding and memorable films. Talented producers, actors, script writers and camera operators submitted for the consideration of their colleagues and spectators serious works that evoked broad public interest and became landmarks in cultural life.
By established tradition, the best of the best will receive one of the country’s most prestigious creative national awards today. For many years the Golden Eagle has been awarded for an outstanding contribution to the development of Russian and world cinematography and is rightly considered to be evidence of top professionalism and impeccable artistic taste.”


How to educate about Auschwitz in the 21st century?

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland in English

“Auschwitz is a history of extreme dehumanisation. From the very beginning, the world realised that the remains of camps must serve as a dire warning. In order for this warning to be effective, education has to stir people’s imagination of their own responsibility for fighting evil or for passivity”. About the challenges in the education about the Auschwitz history today we talk with Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.

POLAND.PL: How to educate about Auschwitz in the 21st century?

Dr. PIOTR CYWIŃSKI, DIRECTOR OF THE AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU STATE MUSEUM: Generations come and go, former prisoners pass away, new information carriers appear, facts are becoming more distant in the history of Europe and the world, but the message conveyed by the Holocaust and German concentration camps remains the same. It is just a matter of finding the best methods at a given time. In the 1990s, when it seemed that denial was one of the most serious threats to remembrance, the Holocaust was systematically introduced into school curricula. Today, when the negation of the genocide is no longer – at least in Europe – the primary threat, and it is the passivity of people who know quite a lot about those times that is more alarming, we should wisely introduce the elements of this teaching into other subjects, which are more linked with our today’s responsibility, sensibility and decision making. By that I mean different forms of civic education, mass media classes, social studies… as well as religion and ethics in order to make our societies more aware of their responsibility for the times we are living in.

Does the Internet make it easier or more difficult to get the message of Auschwitz across to the young people?

The Internet is not only a tool, but also a space. It is a tool in the sense that without it it would be difficult to reach poor or distant countries, where a flight to Auschwitz is out of financial reach for many social groups. It was with these groups in mind that we created a virtual tour, many historical commentaries, and an Internet bookshop. It is also a space because many discussions and debates shifted to social media. Therefore, this is also where we need to convey our message. In any case, it does not only apply to young people. The age curve of our Facebook page users is fairly representative of the entire Internet community. It is the 25-45 year olds that dominate.  

You can often hear that people who were born in the 21st century and grew up in relatively stable surroundings have a different perception of reality, and that the Internet and the virtual world have always been around for them. Is it true that for these people the history of Auschwitz and of other camps is more abstract than for the youth of 20 years ago?

The power of this place is its authenticity. By walking the same paths that the victims took, people experience a kind of “rite of passage”. Though borrowed from the sociology of religion, I think the term accurately reflects the essence of a visit to Auschwitz. For many people such a deep and timeless immersion in the site of a crime evokes a very dire message, breaking many stereotypes that are very common and relax our everyday vigilance. Authenticity also means the rejection of any ideological bias. It is very important. That is why it is fundamental to keep a distance between the world of politics and the world of a memorial site. We should also remember that young people are not the only ones to visit Auschwitz. It is a place where different generations, cultures, traditions, languages, religions and worldviews meet. I think that the primary objective of restoring this memory is to alarm people, or to wake them up from this lethargy shrouded in the illusory impression of perennial security.

During the 10th International Conference on Holocaust Education, you took part in a discussion with Avner Shalev, the director of the Yad Vashem Institute, who stressed the importance of memories and accounts of prisoners. He also warned against losing the meaning of their message in a modern, attractive form. How to strike a balance between presenting accounts and facts, and teaching about the history of camps on the one hand, and the demands of a modern audience on the other hand?

You need to talk to people because forms evolve very quickly and you need to have a sense of what is becoming the norm and what is a novelty. Nowadays it may sound odd, but in the late 1990s, it was debated whether Memorial Sites should have their own websites, and a little over a decade ago, many people said that a comic book, as a form of expression is unworthy of describing gas chambers, whereas five years ago serious international experts believed that Memorial Sites should not be active on Facebook. Therefore, the question is not how to make the message of the survivors more attractive, but how to clash it with today’s culture, whose communications evolve so quickly that it is impossible to predict how it will change, for instance, in five years. 

What education initiatives concerning Auschwitz or other concentration camps and death camps can you name as the most successful and able to get their message across to their audience?

It very much depends who the audience is. I do not believe that we should speak in the same way to all people. Without any distortions, the same historic truth can be said in different ways depending on the audience, similarly to speaking in different languages. The most important element of education is visiting the former camp site. It leaves a lifelong impression. That being said, this “rite of passage” should be accompanied by reading the memoirs of victims. That way, the words become inscribed into the explored space, while the space becomes more legible thanks to the words. These two authenticities – of words and of space – should merge together in the experience of the audience. That is why it is so important that in the 1990s and later, the last living survivors wrote and published their memoirs in so many countries.
However, education programmes addressed to selected groups are quite different. They can address occupational, regional, age and topical groups. Here, you should get to know the group and learn about the potential for implementing the message of Auschwitz in their future lives. For me, one of the most important programmes are the activities we have been conducting in remand centres and prisons all over Poland for almost a decade. While it is easy to talk to high schoolers about the need to build a humane and just world, but it is much more necessary to get this message across to adults who have been diagnosed with a problem by the justice system, and who, after serving their sentence will leave prison and rejoin our societies. I believed that in this area we cannot spare any efforts and in a few years we have reached several dozen thousand inmates with different exhibitions, film screenings, presentations, discussions and other activities. We met with some great people, prison educators, whose experience helped us prepare more suitable programmes. 

Are, or could, the testimonies of persons who experienced the trauma of a concentration camp in our times, for example in North Korea, be helpful in making the contemporary audience aware of what Auschwitz was?

Not only the survivors of concentration camps, but also of contemporary genocides. Propaganda changes, ideology changes, latitudes change and the tools of murder, but the loneliness of an innocent victim stays the same. However, we should be very careful not to fall into the trap of comparisons, which may end with a painful and counterproductive competition as to who suffered the most. It is still a very difficult path. However, Auschwitz became a symbol all over the world and the discourse naturally clashes with different dramas. We have shown our exhibitions in former Soviet forced labour camps, we organised conferences in Rwanda and Yerevan, we provided restoration advice in Kurdistan and Cambodia. These are all places where unimaginable human dramas took place. However, it is important not to muddy the message of Shoah and Auschwitz in worldwide suffering, because we would destroy the power of its authenticity.

Facing the history of Auschwitz, we are tempted to oversimplify it to the cliché of fight of good versus evil. We know that reality was very complex, and the boundary between the perpetrator and the victim could be blurred – that was the cruelty of the camp. How to convey this to young people, or even children?

First of all, we should avoid exaggerating behaviours. In a sense, if we say that a member of the SS behaved honestly, e.g. helped someone escape, or a prisoner functionary supported some fellow inmates while they beat others, then our message will be closer to the general human condition. Not only is creating a myth of irreproachable victims and unambiguously inhumane perpetrators absurd, but it does not correspond with human experience, either. The camps were designed to bring out evil in everyone, in both SS members and prisoners. Some were able to fight this system, some less so. Others decided that it was not the fight and following these principles that would allow them to survive. A thorough study of a given case and all circumstances must play a major role in such education programmes. As well as, evidently, understanding the fact that we are not able to judge all cases, since we did not go through that hell, and because our norms and our assessment are not the norms of those times. Inevitably, we lack certain imagination and we always will. Hopefully.

Some time ago, an article was posted on the Internet featuring inappropriate photos that some visitors take while touring the camp. A selfie against the backdrop of the wires, fooling around on the railway tracks, or a photo with a crematorium in the background, even without pulling faces, are controversial. Where does the lack of sensitivity come from? Is any photo from the visit too much? Maybe in a world where the visual message reigns, a photo made tactfully should not be slammed, but treated as an expression of remembrance and a tribute to the victims?

It is a normal clash of the culture of expression, especially of the young people, with a place in which they do not quite know how to behave. In such situations, people often take refuge in either emotional reactions or taking on defensive roles. Many visitors turn into photographers. They walk around snapping photos everywhere, while in reality their camera or mobile phone allows them to distance themselves from what they see. It is a defensive reaction. Today, a selfie is, albeit it is gradually becoming out of fashion, a certain form of expression. Once, a group of important politicians came on a visit and they asked me how I planned to deal with the serious problem of taking selfies on the camp grounds. I thought that it was actually tragic that those politicians did not see more serious issues in this place. But I answered differently by saying that I would try to deal with it once official political visits took place without accredited official photographers following the visiting VIPs. Because these are also selfies, only more complex ones.

In recent years, Poland has regularly been correcting the incorrect term which associates the adjective “Polish” with the death camps. Why is it incorrect?

It first appeared as a geographical designation. However, when it turned out that the phrase was starting to be used – even unwittingly – as a designation of those responsible, as a criminal activity of the state apparatus, then the issue was treated differently. And I believe that it is good that today more and more people know about this issue. Because, somehow, 90 percent of the newspapers that use the term “Polish camps”, when alarmed, change it to “Nazi camps” and few of them are capable of honesty and using the term used by UNESCO, namely “German Nazi camp.” In fact, it was an institution that formed an integral part of the German state, built on the lands of occupied Poland, and in the case of Auschwitz, additionally in a region annexed and incorporated into the German Reich.

Is there any other commonly spread, false information concerning Auschwitz that we should rectify in order to do history justice?

A lot of damage was done in communist times, when Soviet propaganda exaggerated the number of victims to make them a few times higher and did so without backing it with any proper scientific research, and secondly they tried to muddy the fact by the “numerous nations” that European Jews accounted for 90 percent of Auschwitz victims, especially since 1942 and the launch of the Extermination installation in Birkenau. Entire families were not sent there because they were Polish, French, Greek or Hungarian citizens, but only because they were Jews, all of whom the Third Reich wanted to slaughter. It allowed obscuring the difference, in public perception, in functions and objectives between a concentration camp and a death camp. It poisoned the historical awareness of many people, and to this day some have difficulty fully accepting the truth.

You have served as director for almost 13 years. After these years, can you say what lesson humankind can draw from Auschwitz?

Auschwitz shows the infinite ability of humankind to dehumanise other human beings. This is a history of extreme dehumanisation. From the very beginning, the world realised that the remains of camps must serve as a dire warning. Nevertheless, in order for this warning to be effective, education has to stir people’s imagination of their own responsibility for fighting evil or for passivity. Only then will remembrance fulfil its goal of changing views, behaviours and actions. If history is to be magistra vitae, man has to constantly feel the burden of his everyday responsibility.

Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywiński, Museum Director
Born in 1972 in Warsaw. Doctor of humanities, medieval historian, graduate of Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg, the Catholic University of Lublin, and the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Science. Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim since 2006.
Vice-president of the Warsaw Catholic Intelligentsia Club from 1996-2000, and president from 2000-2010. From 1996 until today a member of the Board of the association. A participant in the Polish-Jewish and Christian-Jewish dialogues, the Ukrainian-Polish dialogue, and other borderland dialogues. Graduate of the International Borderland School for Cultural, Educational, and Social Leaders Acting for the Sake of the Multicultural Regions of Central-Eastern Europe. From 2002 a member of the Polish Episcopate Working Group for discussions with the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. Member of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews since 2007. Named Ambassador of the International Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008.
In charge of accreditation for the 1999 visit to Poland by John Paul II, and later plenipotentiary of the board of the Polish Information Agency. Executive vice-director from 2000-2002 of the Europalia 2001 Poland Festival, and later head of the foreign programs department in the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
Co-founder of the St. Adalbert Forum, which brings together several score Christian movements and associations desirous of working together for the sake of a Christian contribution to the shaping of Europe. Chairman of the Board of the Forum, whose greatest achievement to date has been the Gniezno Congresses in March 2003, 2004, September 2005 and June 2007. Deputy chairman for Europe of the Pax Romana International Federation of Organizations of Catholic Intellectuals in 2004-2008.
Member of the International Auschwitz Council, and its secretary from 2000-2006. From 2005-2014 deputy chairman of the Council of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. From 2010 member of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Combat and Martyrdom (ROPWiM) and from 2009-2018 member of the Board of Museums at the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Nominated by Władysław Bartoszewski as Chairman of Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which he co-founded.
In 2009-2017 Member of the Board of Trustees of the II World War Museum to be built in Gdańsk. Member of the Board of the Foundation for the Maximilian-Kolbe-Werk, founded by the German Episcopate Conference. From 2010 a member and from 2011 a Board Member of the Maison d’Izieu Memorial in France. From 2015 a member of ‘Memorial’ in Moscow. In 2017 he became a Chairman of the Program Board of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. 
Author of many books. His most important publications are: “Epitaph”, five volumes from the series “”Miejsce Prawdy” (The Place of Truth): “Początki Auschwitz w pamięci pierwszego transportu polskich więźniów politycznych” (Beginnings of Auschwitz in the memory of the first transport of Polish political prisoners), “Zagłada w pamięci więźniów Sonderkommando” (Extermination in the memory of the prisoners of Sonderkommando), “Marsz śmierci w pamięci ewakuowanych więźniów Auschwitz” (Death March in memory of evacuated Auschwitz prisoners), “Sny obozowe w pamięci ocalałych z Auschwitz” (Camp dreams in the memory of Auschwitz survivors), “Rampa obozowa w pamięci Żydów deportowanych do Auschwitz” (Camp ramp in the memory of the Jews deported to Auschwitz). He is also a co-author of the extended interview with Professor Władysław Bartoszewski “Mój Auschwitz” (My Auschwitz), compendium “Auschwitz from A to Z. Illustrated history of the camp” as well as catalogue “Auschwitz Legacies”.

New direction in BMW Group sales regions

Source: BMW Group – English

Munich. A core element of the BMW Group’s corporate Strategy Number ONE > NEXT is to increase customer orientation and to focus on future technologies and growth opportunities in global markets. In line with this, the BMW Group is reorganising its sales regions across numerous growth markets.

Sales and marketing operations in Asia Pacific (excluding China), Eastern Europe (outside EU), the Middle East and Africa will be integrated into a single sales region. Hendrik von Kuenheim will take responsibility for this new region on 1st February 2019 and further leverage the opportunities for growth in this dynamic set of countries. Mr. von Kuenheim is currently responsible for the sales and marketing in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Commenting on this new structure, Pieter Nota, member of the BMW AG Board of Management responsible for Sales and Brand BMW, said, “What these markets have in common is great growth potential. This reorganization will enhance collective market strength and ensure that, together with our partners in the region, we can fully capitalize on our exciting line-up of new products. Hendrik has extensive sales experience from various management roles with the BMW Group across all regions worldwide. He brings in-depth knowledge of the individual market dynamics, the customer requirements and capabilities of the respective teams in this region. A smooth transition and fast start are guaranteed.”

If you have any queries, please contact:

Corporate Communications

Jochen Frey, Corporate and Culture Communications, HR
Telephone: +49 89 382 41125

Emma Begley, Corporate and Culture Communications, Sales
Telephone: +49 89 382 72200

Mathias Schmidt, Head of Corporate and Culture Communications
Telephone: +49 89 382-24544

Media website:
The BMW Group

With its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises 30 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries; the company has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.
In 2018, the BMW Group sold over 2,490,000 passenger vehicles and more than 165,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax in the financial year 2017 was € 10.655 billion on revenues amounting to € 98.678 billion. As of 31 December 2017, the BMW Group had a workforce of 129,932 employees.
The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.


Death penalty: retrospective and aspirations of human rights defenders

Source: Viasna Belarus Human Rights Center in English

The campaign “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus” was initiated on January 26, 2009 by the Human Rights Center Viasna in association with the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the international human rights organization Amnesty International. The company’s goal was to abolish the death penalty in the country and encourage Belarus to adopt European values.
In 2018, the campaign “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus” became the award winner of the National Human Rights Award in the category “Campaign of the year.”
The petition against the death penalty has been signed by thousands of citizens of Belarus.
Viasna asked the campaign activists about how one of the most notorious human rights campaigns in Belarus has been established, what difficulties it encountered and how such activity is perceived in society.
Andrei Paluda, coordinator of the campaign: “The result of this campaign can be one and only: a moratorium on the death penalty until its full abolition”
Frankly speaking, given the complexity of the topic, it seems that I’ve been doing this for a long time, more than 10 or even 15 years. But it is important to realize that, after all, there is progress in this matter. Of course, the result of this campaign can be one and only: a moratorium on the death penalty until its full abolition. But you can’t devalue the achievements that are made within the campaign. You can achieve the ultimate goal even taking small steps.
Firstly, the campaign made the death penalty the issue of concern for the media. There was a time when Belarus sentenced 20-30 people to death each year, and nobody paid attention. Now the situation is different: on every point related to the death penalty, there is an active discussion in the media and society.
Secondly, the political context of the death penalty issue has changed in Belarus. In many political negotiations, the abolition of the death penalty appears on the agenda, for example in relations with the European Union, the Council of Europe.

Representative of Amnesty International Aisha Jung and coordinator of the campaign Andrej Paluda
Thirdly, almost all human rights community came to realize that the topic of the death penalty is indeed one of the major issues on the agenda of human rights defense in Belarus.
If we talk about the challenges we faced during the campaign, one of the most severe obstacles for us is the inability to cooperate with the government fully. This includes the lack of direct access to the state media and educational institutions. Although, in our opinion, the authorities could benefit from the expertise of human rights defenders.

Activists bring petitions for the abolition of the death penalty to the Presidential Administration, 2011
  Iryna Toŭscik, the first coordinator of the campaign: “I believe the day when Belarus abolishes the death penalty will come soon”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since the beginning of the campaign “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus.” Of course, nobody expected that the campaign would take more than 10 years.
A long way has already been made, many things have been done on the path. I believe the day when Belarus abolishes the death penalty will come soon.
After the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan in 2008, our country remains the last of the post-Soviet states which invoke this form of punishment. Back then no one in the society and the media spoke openly about the death penalty and especially its abolition, it was like a taboo subject, classified.
Whenever the issue of the abolition of the death penalty had been raised, the state referred to the 1996 referendum, when the majority of people voted for the death penalty. However, before the referendum, no information campaign was conducted, except for some horror stories on TV.
Many years have passed since that referendum, and we felt that the time had come when we had to talk about the abolition of the death penalty openly, we had to inform the public, to start a debate in the society, we wanted to know the truth and to show how inefficient the death penalty system was.

Human rights defenders inform Minsk inhabitants about the death penalty issue, 2010
We had no idea where to start, where to look for the relatives of the executed, where to find information about the death penalty, how to communicate with the government on this matter, from which side to approach the issue, so as not to cause an adverse reaction or even aggression from the public. It was a kind of swamp. There was no island to push off from.
A petition against the death penalty addressed to the Belarusian authorities, the presentation of the campaign to the public, attempts to take legal action in the UN Human Rights Committee, contacts with lawyers and relatives of the condemned – we tried many things. But the state’s attitude toward this matter was severe and inexorable. It was a harsh response to human rights activists and the public that only the state decides when to execute the death sentence.  

Sting sings petition for the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus. Commemorative picture – Alieh Hulak, Sting, Valiancin Stefanovič, 2010
It was difficult to realize that the work done did not stop the execution of sentences. It was hard to accept that fact, to talk with relatives, it was difficult to ask them to continue working with human rights activists, to make statements to journalists of independent media. But we knew that this was not a simple issue. And today the work continues until we stop this bloody millstone.
Alieś Bialiacki, chairman of the Human Rights Center Viasna: “However much the Belarusian authorities opposed it, the public views change for the better”
Viasna has always paid attention to this issue. For some time, we did not know how to approach this topic, because the authorities tried to hide any information on this matter.
During the campaign “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus,” we realized that it was right for us to address that issue more keenly. New questions and challenges have appeared. We realized that the executions of the condemned are not just dry figures but real human lots. The more we learned about the mechanism of executions, the conditions of detention of the condemned, the more we realized that the issue had nothing to do with fair justice.
Although at the beginning of the campaign, critical voices from civil society in Belarus came into the picture. The views of known politicians conveyed that the issue was irrelevant, and it made more sense to pay more attention to the defense of the socio-political rights that have been violated on a massive scale.
One of the biggest challenges we faced during the campaign was the ignorance of Belarusian society related to the death penalty. Therefore, any information we produced was actively discussed.

Human rights defenders Alieś Bialiacki and Andrej Paluda with volunteers post appeals to deputies, 2016
The issue of the death penalty in Belarus after the referendum of 1996 became a political issue entirely. If we analyze various statements of high officials delivered over these years, we can see that they are quite open to the introduction of the moratorium. After all, the country loses too much sticking to the death penalty.
But in an extremely centralized state as Belarus, all such issues are decided by one person, Aliaksandr Lukašenka. The president believes that the death penalty is one of the essential symbols of presidential power in Belarus.
Thus we see that the public attitude is changing, the situation in Belarus maturates to the abolition of the death penalty. Every year, the death penalty is becoming a bigger problem for the Belarusian authorities. The challenge consists of the constant pressure from the international community, concerns with the international image of the Belarusian authorities and some economic issues.
For the new generation of Belarusians, the principle of absolute cruelty for a variety of reasons – moral, religious, civilizational – becomes unacceptable. We feel the humane wind of Europe blowing in Belarus. However much the Belarusian authorities opposed it, the views in society change for the better.
Palina Sciepanienka, activist of the campaign: “We are driven by the understanding that we seek to reduce the amount of evil in a world that is already very cruel”
I recently spoke with a representative of the legislative power in Belarus, he was confident that the existence of the death penalty contributes to justice and harmony in society. The same opinion is shared by most advocates of the death penalty who have a slim thought for how this “justice” looks like in reality, and what stands behind the “harmony.”
During the campaign, many times we had to deal with the stereotype “we shoot only maniacs, perverts-pedophiles – it serves them right!” But the death penalty in Belarus can be used not only against criminals but against political opponents.
The formalities of justice are only a screen which covers the violence, covers the despotism of the government. The missing politician Jury Zacharanka compared the victims of the death penalty with the victims brought to cruel ancient gods.
The issue of the death penalty is a complicated topic, and working with it is emotionally exhausting. To avoid burnout, you need to see a psychotherapist and be able to have some rest once in a while. After all, a real burnout can be encountered only once – once and for all — and then you need to change the field. You can’t fire up something that has been burnt down. Getting the support of the loved ones and colleagues is essential. And, most importantly, to avoid the depreciation of labor from the closest community. Even though the campaign turns ten this year, we firmly move on. We are driven by the understanding that we seek to reduce the amount of evil in a world that is already very harsh. 

Palina Sciepanienka and Andrej Paluda with the prison uniform of a person sentenced to death. The robe is provided by Volha Hrunova


Vitaly Shulika summed up the work of the Perm Territory police for the past year

Source: Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs in English

Today, in Perm, Deputy-Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, Police Major-General Vitaly Shulika took part in an enlarged meeting of the Collegium of the MIA of Russia GA for the Perm Territory summing up the results of operational activities for 2018.
The meeting was attended by the heads of the executive and legislative authorities of the region, law enforcement agencies, chiefs of the GA sub-units, chiefs of territorial internal affairs bodies of the Perm Territory, representatives of the Public Council under the regional GA.
The Chief of the MIA of Russia GA for the Perm Territory, Police Major-General Mikhail Davydov, summing up the activities of 2018, noted that the measures taken ensured a stable law and order in the region and improved the effectiveness of the police operational performance.
This is evidenced by the reduction in the number of encroachments on the life and health of citizens, including the reduction of murders and cases of the infliction of grave harm to health, as well as the decrease in the number of mercenary-violent encroachments, such as robbery attacks, robberies, thefts, fraud, crimes committed in public places and in the streets.
Last year, public order on the territory of the region was ensured at 4,500 mass cultural and socio-political events, in which more than 2.7 million people took part.
Vitaly Shulika pointed out the problematic issues in the operational activities of the internal affairs bodies of the territory and outlined the priority areas of work for 2019. Those included improvement in the quality of the preliminary investigation, solving and investigating past crimes, preventing road traffic accidents involving minors, strengthening the registration discipline.
Concluding the event, the Deputy Minister presented awards to the most distinguished officers of the internal affairs bodies of the Perm Territory.
During the working visit, Vitaly Shulika visited also, the medical and sanitary unit of the MIA of Russia regional GA and the departmental hospital. He familiarized himself with the material and technical support of the units and the working conditions in which doctors receive patients – personnel and veterans of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.