Home | Friday 1st April 2011 | Issue 765
Over 100 protesters gathered outside the London offices of communications company Grayling on Monday (28th), demanding a halt to the company’s investment in Belarus until all political prisoners are freed. Hundreds of activists have been harassed by security forces and thrown in jail in Europe’s last open dictatorship since last December (see SchNEWS 757). Last weekend a further 50 people in Belarus were arrested following a small rally against the 16-year rule of Alexander Lukashenko.
Grayling PR is the second largest independent public relations consultancy in the world, and the only one of its kind with an office in Minsk. The company’s CEO insists that it has never taken money from the Belarus dictatorship. The London protesters, who included relations of some of the imprisoned alongside Kevin Spacey, Jude Law and Tom Stoppard, maintain that any investment in a country running under an authoritarian regime feeds the reserves of its economy.
Spacey and Law became involved after making the acquaintance of The Free Belarus Theatre (FBT), a covert playing company that produces and performs underground plays under the radar of the state-owned Belarusian arts scene. Its members have been persecuted and further imprisoned for speaking out against the government. The protesters then marched to the House of Commons where FBT were to perform.
A modest sized demo of around 20 people, was held in Prague on Tuesday (29th) in solidarity with Belarusian political prisoners.