Belarus Investigative Committee brings charges against independent trade union leaders

Henadz Fyadynich

Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik, the leaders of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) have been charged with tax evasion on a large scale (Art. 243-2 of the Criminal Code of Belarus).

“They want to block our work, to tame the union, to make us fulfil their orders. Unfortunately, the Investigative Committee or the authorities do not realise that such things taint the image of Belarus abroad,” Fyadynich told Belsat.

The case was opened by the Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee, now it is under control of the Belarusian Investigative Committee. The activists are regularly summoned for questioning. Komlik and Fyadynich keep pleading not guilty.

According to chief accountant Ihar Komlik, who was arrested over the case but then released, the investigators want to get the list of the REP activists, which, in his opinion, is not up to them.

“It is a criminal case, but the fact above may turn it a political one,” Komlik stressed.

In August 2017, the Minsk and Salihorsk offices of two key opposition trade unions were raided by the Department of Financial Investigations. Computers, hard drives were seized; the law enforcers were looking for documents. According to the investigation, trade union activists regularly traveled abroad to withdraw money from accounts in foreign accounts and bring them to Belarus.

A criminal case was initiated against the head of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) Henadz Fyadynich and chief accountant Ihar Komlik. Fyadynich was released on his own recognizance; Komlik spent 2 months in jail and walked free in October. However, the both still may face up to seven years in prison and confiscation of property.

According to Henadz Fyadynich, the case initiated is nothing but retaliation for their civic activity during spring ‘non-parasite’ protests.

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