A return to NKVD practice
On 8 December the national security commission of the Chamber of Representatives held an extended sitting for discussion of some amendments to the laws by the deputies and invited specialists.
It was done for preparation of the draft law on the amendments concerning the enhancement of anti-criminal measures. The new document allows examining apartments and similar procedures without prosecutor’s sanction. If such amendments are adopted, the decision of the minister of interior, the KGB head or the director of the Financial Investigations Department will be enough for keeping people in custody and bugging and recording their telephone conversations.
’It is nonsense from the point of view of the law that is first of all concerned with the protection of the legal interests of citizens,’ says the lawyer and human rights defender Uladzimir Labkovich. ‘In fact, the executive agencies that are directly subordinated to the president receive the functions of unhindered investigation, detention and personal restraint.
The only thing they need to do afterwards is to get the approval of their actions from the prosecutor’s office. However, according to the new draft law the prosecutor’s office cannot abolish the arrest, it can only protest against it. It shows that the institution of procuracy that couldn’t be considered independent even before, now becomes not only virtually, but also judicially insignificant in the questions of controlling the criminal prosecution.’
Aleh Volchak, head of the human rights center Legal assistance to population: Ukraine-Belarus, registered in the Ukraine, calls it the return to the Soviet past. ‘In 1930-ies the main role belonged not to investigators of the prosecutor’s offices, but to investigators of the NKVD (predecessor of KGB). It was them who did all: arrests, detentions… The prosecutor only formally registered it,’ stated Aleh Volchak.
The director of the National Center of Legal Initiatives Vadzim Ipatau tried to assure the ‘deputies’ that investigation without an order of the prosecutor’s office would be conducted only in exclusive cases.
Aleh Volchak is sure that an ‘exclusive’ case can be made of 90% of all cases. ‘Believe me, members of the police task force can describe everything nicely enough by saying they allegedly have information from their own sources and many reports that confirmed that it was necessary to detain a person,’ says the human rights defender.
Uladzimir Labkovich also says that it is hard to believe to Ipatau that such cases will be exclusive. ‘Judging from our experience as human rights defenders, such things always end being used as a weapon against the political opponents. That’s why I don’ rule out that these mechanisms will be used this way, especially on the eve of the presidential election,’ stated the human rights defender.
Bear in mind that the initiative to empower the heads of MIA, KGB and FID to ‘conduct investigative and search operations, apply restraints and conduct certain process actions on motivated rulings’ was voiced in August 2009 by Aliaksandr Lukashenka. He also said that such high-rank officials are as competent as the prosecutor who sanctions such actions.
The Belarusian human rights defenders believe that the initiative of the Belarusian dictator returns the country to the times of Stalin’s troikas, when extra-judicial arrests were sanctioned by the head of the local NKVD, the secretary of the oblast executive committee and the prosecutor. All this was done to do away with ‘anti-Soviet elements’,
Giving additional powers to the heads of MIA, KGB and FID can bring Belarus to the situation of 1937 and increase the self-will of the executive power with Lukashenka at the head. The authorities will have an opportunity to make political ‘clear-ups’ and persecute dissidents at any critical moment.