The court has found Ales Yaudakha, a distributor of books in the Belarusian language, guilty of carrying out illegal business practices. He has been sentenced to one year of restriction of liberty. Moreover, Yaudakha is obliged to “reimburse the state for damage” and pay Blr 57mln (appr. $7,000) fine off.
Being a founder of knihi.by, a web service providing distributing books by post, Ales Yaudakha sent out books by outstanding Belarusian writers (Vasil Bykau, Uladzimir Arlou, Mikola Yermalovich, etc.) to customers living in different cities and towns of the country.
According to Yaudakha, after officials of the Ministry of Taxation had ordered examples of “Young Front members” [a youth organisation unauthorised in Belarus] he came up against problems.
In May 2010 the Department of Financial Investigations opened a criminal case. Investigators summoned customers and questioned them what for they had transferred money to the book distributor.
In court Ales Yaudakha pointed out that he had not carried out any business practices but provided services to his friends and acquaintances, whom he had sent books by post to. His aim was the promotion of Belarusian culture, not profit earning. As Yaudakha considers the sentence to be unfair, he is about to appeal against it.