Victory of Belarusian Helsinki Committee over Tax Inspection Confirmed
On 12 June the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus confirmed the victory of Belarusian Helsinki Committee in the trial against the tax inspection and ruled to leave the pretensions to BHC concerning paying of $70 000 to the inspection unsatisfied.
In 2004 the procurator’s office brought a criminal case against the leaders of Belarusian Helsinki Committee for “non-payment of taxes from TACIS grants received in 2002-2003”. Later this case was closed. Now human rights activists hope there are no perspectives of its reopening. What concerns facility taxation of foreign aid, since 2003 this question is decided by president in person in each case. Meanwhile, the means spent on Belarus by international organizations sometimes don’t reach public organizations. For instance, in 2005 Belarusian authorities blocked the EU grant to BHC on support to military pensioners.
The argument of Minsk Maskouski Borough Tax Inspection and Belarusian Helsinki Committee was considered by economic courts of different instances in 2004. The pretensions of the tax inspection to Belarusian Helsinki Committee were found groundless. Nevertheless, after the enforcement of new Criminal-Process Code, the tax inspection decided to complain against the verdict to the Supreme Economic Court, which left it in force.
During 2004 more than 50 public organizations were closed. This trend continues in 2005. At present Belarusian authorities quite often use tax pretensions as a means of political pressurization.