Six years ago the case of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for alleged tax evasion.
A full-scale international scandal broke out after Lithuania and Poland had provided the Belarusian side with information on his case. The fact of his holding bank accounts abroad gave the grounds for criminal prosecution. The cash standing to the credit of accounts was used for human rights defence activity: HRC Viasna financially supported the people affected by Lukashenka’s regime. In court Bialiatski stated that he had no other possibility of getting financial aid from foreign backers. Having spent over 1,000 days in jail, Byalyatski was released in June, 2014.
A case under the same article (tax evasion) initiated against the activists of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik has prompted an important question: what way did the State Control Committee receive the data? Poland and Lithuania are on the list of possible sources.
“In response to your request, we inform you that Belarus has not appealed to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania with regard to these persons. The Ministry of Justice receives requests from Belarus to provide information on the accounts of its citizens in the Bank of Lithuania. But such information is not conveyed to Belarus; requests mentioned above are sent back to Belarus,” Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice told Belsat TV.
“Answers to your questions will be immediately sent to you as soon as they are prepared,” Poland’s Prosecutor General office promised.
The case of Komlik and Fyadynich still has more questions than answers.
What other countries could give information on bank accounts of the REP trade union? The financial police has not revealed the sources. According to trade union activists, a Lithuanian account may have appeared in a criminal case, but it was closed six years ago – after the arrest of Ales Byalyatski.
“As far as I know from people, no documents were shown to them. Investigators refer to their own information. They were tapping and watching us. They have some papers that do not relate to taxes at all! They have nothing, ” the legal inspector of the REP trade union Yury Belyakou believes.
According to Belarusian trade union and civic activists, the case is a retaliation act for their involvement in the non-parasite protests in the spring of 2017.
Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik may face up to seven years in prison and confiscation of property. Belarusian human rights defenders recognized Ihar Komlik, who is kept behind bars, a political prisoner.
As reported earlier, Alyaksandr Lukashenka‘s notorious decree on ‘idlers’ caused a massive public outcry. In February-March, protests were held in a number of Belarusian cities and towns.
On March 25, Belarusians came to main squares of their cities to protest the ‘parasite’ law and celebrate the unofficial Freedom Day. But the Minsk riot police brutally dispersed the protest. Hundreds of people – even women, elderly people, journalists and ordinary passers-by – were arrested, battered and jailed.