EU asked to come to defense of Belarus’ sentenced trade union leaders


IndustriAll Europe, along with IndustriALL Global Union, International Confederation of Trade Unions (ITUC), and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have sent a letter to EU top official Federica Mogherini asking her to express their deep concern over the recent verdict against the leaders of the Belarusian Radio and Electronics Industry Workers’ Union (REP) Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik.

In late August, Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik were found guilty of large scale tax evasion (Art. 243-2 of the Criminal Code of Belarus). Maryna Fyodarava, a judge at Savetski district court of Minsk, has sentenced Fyadynich and Komlik to 4 years of restraint of liberty without sending them to acorrectional institution. Fyadynich and Komlik were also prohibited from holding key positions in the next 5 years. They will have to cover losses (47,746 Belarusian rubles), as well as pay state and court fees.

The trial started on July, 30. During the investigation period, which lasted almost a year, the Department of Financial Investigations interrogated about 800 witnesses in the case. At one of the first hearings, Union’s former secretary Yuliya Yukhnavets admitted to being a KGB agent and fulfilling their tasks.

IndustriALL, ITUC, industriAll Europe and ETUC strongly condemned the decision, which they consider to be politically motivated. According to them, the Belarusian authorities seek to exert pressure on the trade union’s leadership.

The organisations have urged the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to raise the issue of political prisoners in Belarus in her communication with the authorities of Belarus, and also to call on the European Union to support their demand to review of the verdict.

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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. Komlik and Fyadynich kept pleading not guilty.

According to Henadz Fyadynich, the case initiated is nothing but retaliation for their civic activity during the 2017 ‘non-parasite’ protests. Human rights defenders and civil society of Belarus considers the case of Fyadynich and Komlik politically motivated.

“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.

belsat.eu

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