The Czech government has approved the creation of a fund to help Belarusians affected by the restrictions of President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.
The Czech Republic will set aside CZK 10 million korunas for this purpose from this year’s budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The money will be used to help persecuted people, treat the injured, and support independent media.
“The priorities at the moment are, in particular, the support of independent media. There is a need to ensure that citizens in Belarus have access to independent information. It is generally a support for civil society,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček.
“In practical specific areas, it is legal assistance to people who have lost their jobs because they have reported how elections have been manipulated, legal aid for journalists exposed to persecution, psychotherapeutic assistance to people who were arrested and, according to all testimonies, were subjected to torture by the local authorities, “said Petříček about the use of the money before a government meeting on the topic.
The Czech Republic also intends to provide medical care for Belarusians in Czech hospitals.
“The Ministry of the Interior will coordinate the selection of persons, cover the costs of admission to the country, accommodation and other possible costs related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as testing,” said Interior Minister Jan Hamáček.
His department will arrange transportation of Belarusians to the Czech Republic while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will issue visas.
According to Petříček, the Czech embassy in Minsk, together with Belarusian civil society organizations, should decide on the distribution of financial aid. Part of the assistance will be provided with the use of the Czech state authorities in cooperation with the embassy, part through non-governmental organizations in Belarus or organizations that provide independent reporting in the country.
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