Six years of reinforced regime with confiscation of property: this verdict of the Minsk court was announced in the case of businessman Alyaksandr Knyrovich. He was accused of giving bribes, “kickbacks”, which allegedly increased the cost of public services for Belarusians, and tax evasion. The convicted businessman, who spent 17 months in a KGB prison, pleaded not guilty.
The well-known Belarusian businessman, director of ‘Sarmat Termo-Engineering’ Alyaksandr Knyrovich, received a 6-year colony sentence with confiscation of property and a ban on holding managerial positions for a period of 5 years. It was naive to hope for any other decision of the court. Alyaksandr Lukashenka figured out the case even before the trial started and announced what sentence he expected.
Therefore, no one from those present wanted to comment on the verdict. We had to contact experts.
“In case of an official, he is given 8 years, he is quickly released and he is goes to manage some collective farm. And in case of an entrepreneur, he is tried, given six years in prison. This is a mockery of entrepreneurship in our country,” said Yaraslau Ramanchuk, head of the ‘Mises’ research center.
Other persons involved in the case also received prison sentences: Deputy Director of the firm Ihar Maksimau — 4 years with confiscation, leading economist Andrei Kuskou — 3 years in prison and a ban on entrepreneurial activity for 5 years, Deputy Sales Director Yauhen Papousky — 4 years in the colony. In addition, the convicts must pay off the state’s loss of 2 million 765 thousand BYN. They were given the maximum sentence, as the prosecutor asked. But some questions remained unanswered.
“This is a very common practice with respect to medium and large businesses. This way, the state attracts money to the budget and at the same time disciplines businessmen, forces them to work on its own terms,” explains Alyaknsandr Papko, the author of the thesis “Informal Barriers to Business in Belarus”.
Viktar Prakapenya, Yury Chyzh, Vitaly Arbuzau, Yauhen Baskin, Uladzimir Yapryntsau, the Gilman brothers are a small part of the list of businessmen processed in recent years byh the court conveyor. This number of perpetrators raises the question: maybe the problem is in the system itself? The system where there are no innocent entrepreneurs.
Igor Kuley, Belsat