Belarus Presidential candidate attacked

Very alarming developments in the Belarussian Presidential election, as an opposition candidate is violently assaulted by the President’s bodyguards.

In the morning, an opposition presidential candidate Alexander Kazulin (Kozulin) came to register as a participant in the so called All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, a Soviet-style “party congress” staged by president Lukashenka (which he uses to show in front of the TV cameras “massive people’s support”, in a Soviet way). Lukashenka and all his gang was there.

Alexander Kazulin entered the building, requesting to be registered as a participant because his party (Hramada) has nominated him for this. Almost immediately, Lukashenka’s guards attacked him. They knocked him down to the ground and started kicking him with army boots. Among the people beating him was Dmitry Pavlichenko, a special force policeman who most probably killed two opposition politicians several years ago (at least, he’s the main suspect according to those who tried to investigate the disappearances of the famous politicians in Belarus).

This report came from br23 blog, who also notes that there was also some trouble at a rally in Minsk city centre by supporters of another opposition candidate – Alexander Milinkevich.

The BBC reported the story on their website, but only briefly. As the BBC’s correspondent notes:

I can only watch the spectacle on TV.

Like all foreign journalists in Minsk – except Russian media – I’ve been banned from attending. “Sorry,” Mr Lukashenko’s press secretary had informed me over the phone, “There’s no room!”

Which presumably means there will be no film evidence of the assault, and no major coverage by on the tv news.

Blogspot blocked in Pakistan – bloggers sound alarm

News has been filtering through today that the authorities in Pakistan have blocked access to Blogspot:

Pakistan telecom authorities have blocked several websites inviting people to draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, it has emerged.

Instructions were issued to internet service providers across Pakistan on 27 February to block about a dozen websites of various origins.

Including Blogspot, (aka Blogger) which is one of the largest blog hosting websites.

George Bush is visiting Pakistan this weekend, and I’ve heard a number of rumours that I the decision to block access is timed to coincide with his visit.  The BBC article, however, suggests that the decision to block blogspot sites was actually taken because of the Danish cartoon controversy – that the authorities actually just intended to block one blogspot blog, but have ended up blocking the whole blogspot domain.  So, essentially, it’s just one big screw up.

I have to say I tend toward the screw-up theory.

Anyway, as an aside, there’s an interesting backstory to how the news broke into the mainstream media, via the BBC.  Bloggers on an email listserver noted that they weren’t able to access anything from blogspot.  And it just happens that a couple of BBC journalists frequent this list.  A word here, a phone call there, and the story begins to make international waves.

Another demonstration of the blogosphere’s ability to break news.

University newspaper recalled for printing cartoons

I cannot express in words my utter disgust that Cardiff University – an institution of learning – could consider it acceptable to do recall the entire print run of its student newspaper for printing an ‘anti-Islamic’ cartoon in the context of what the university itself admits was a balanced article:

A press release from the Student Union confirmed that the edition had been pulled and that the editor, Tom Wellingham, and three journalists had been suspended from the newspaper pending a university investigation. A spokesperson said the newspaper was recalled after a member of the Student Union noticed the article whilst delivering the paper on Saturday morning. “The edition featured a short piece about the controversy surrounding the Danish satirical cartoons,” she said.

“The article was entirely balanced but included a picture of one of the cartoons. We recalled the issues straight away. We do a print run of 10,000 copies and all but 200 have been accounted for.

If we cannot express ideas and debate freely even in a university, where can we do so?  We might as well all just pack up and go home now.

(Thanks to the Pub Philosopher for pointing out this story).