Ales Bialacki, head of the human rights center Viasna, was warned by Lithuanian authorities against returning to Belarus, after the information about his bank account were passed to the government in Minsk.
Bialacki was at that time in Lithuania. „It was exclusively Bialcki’s decision to return to Belarus.“ – said Justinas Karosas, a deputy chairman of the public affair committee in Lithuania.
„I’ve heard Bialacki speaking about being Belarusian citizen and a patriot, and that his place is over there. This, however, does not justify actions of our institutions, who had forgotten what is the political situation of our neighboring country“ – added the Lithuanian politician.
Justinas Karosas apologized Belarusian opposition for the entire situation. „I hope that the Belarusian democratic forces will still consider Lithuania to be their friend“ – he said.
Ales Bialacki was arrested on August 4th on charges of big-scale tax evasion. The indictment was based on a bank account information delivered to Belarus by Lithuanian Ministry of Justice. Tatiana Raviak from Viasna center informed that Bialacki is facing up to seven years in prison and property loss.
It is still unclear who should hold responsibility for the incident. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been blaming Ministry of Justice for passing the information about bank accounts of 400 Belarusians to the authorities in Minsk. The Minstry of Justice has been kicking the ball back to the MFA, saying the latter one has not provided sufficient information about the possible consequences of handing over the bank accounts data. The representatives of the Lithuanian authorities promised to make up for the wrong and offer additional support for Bialacki and other dissidents.
Lithuanian councel in Belarus, Edminas Bagdonas, apoligized to wife of Bialacki, promising additional help.
Bialacki maintains that money transferred by the foreign organizations to his Lithuanian account were used for organizing legal support for political prisoners, paying their fines and lawyers.