Dr. Gennady Grushevoy, Belarus,

winner of the 1999

Rafto prize for human rights

 

Grushevoy is professor of philosophy at the University in Minsk. He has been active in the democratic movement in the country since the late 1980’s.

In 1989 he founded the Belarusian Charitable Fund "For the Children of Chernobyl" which has defended the rights of victims of the Chernobyl disaster and provided humanitarian aid through contacts with organisations in other countries.

After organising demonstrations in Minsk to mark the 11th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident arrest orders were issued for him and his wife Irina. The official reason given by the authorities was fraud.

The couple spent a year in exile in Germany before returning to Belarus this year when the charges were dropped - since no evidence of fraud could be found among the papers of the fund.

Grushevoy was elected to the Belarusian parliament in the first free elections in the country in 1990. In 1996 he was re-elected but has not taken his seat since President Lukashenko deposed the parliament that year and appointed his own deputies.

In 1999 the regime of Alexander Lukashenko has tightened its grip on the democracy and human rights movement in the country. Since May several activists have disappeared.

Lukashenko’s presidential term expired on July 20th without new elections being held. In spite of all these factors Belarus is a country which receives little international attention.

The Norwegian Peace Centre, the Conflict Resolution Training Projectat PRIO and the Centre for Conflict Management, Norway (CCM) have been working together with Grushevoy and NGOs to which he is attached on a program to help develop democratic practices and good governance in Belarus.

The program has as its primary objective the training of local trainers in human rights, democratic process and conflict resolution. The programme is funded by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the US Information Services.

Erik Cleven of the Norwegian Peace Centre, Graham Dyson of PRIO/CCM and Berit Collett of CCM made an extended visit to Belarus in September, when 20 NGO representatives started training as trainers and designed workshops.

These will be conducted by the local trainers near Minsk and three other regional centres in November, with Cleven, Dyson and Collett as support trainers. By early next year, another twenty-four workshops are planned to be conducted by the local trainers.

 

 

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