Public statement by Human Rights Center ‘Viasna’ concerning search at Zmitser Salauyou’s office in Navapolatsk
On 30 April the police searched the private office of the human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou in Navapolatsk. The search was sanctioned by the town procurator, Anatol Ausiuk, and V.Karenski, Chair of the operative crime detection activities section of the investigation department of the Navapolatsk Town Police Department, within the frames of the criminal case instigated under Article 341 of the Criminal Code – ‘Defilement of buildings and destruction of property’ on the fact of inscriptions with swastikas on walls of different houses of the town. Computer system units, CDs, many printed editions and white-red-flags were confiscated as a result of the search.
Numerous cultural events take place at Zmitser Salauyou’s office, including the Belarusian dictation, meetings with well-known artists and writers, etc. Zmitser Salauyou is a human rights defender and civil activist who is quite popular in Navapolatsk. He meets with people who need his assistance as a result of violation of their rights by the authorities. His office is the only independent from the authorities place in Navapolatsk where democratically minded people can gather. That’s why the authorities treat the very fact of its existence quite nervously. In 2006 office appliances, printed editions and human rights documents were confiscated as a result of a similar search. Nothing has been returned so far.
The office has also been repeatedly subject to attacks of neo-Nazis. The walls of the building were painted with swastikas and a roller blind on a window was damaged. In 2008-2009 the human rights defender thrice addressed the procuracy with the demand to instigate a criminal case against the neo-Nazis who also painted swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on other houses of Navapolatsk. As a result he received refusals where it was stated that actions of unidentified persons couldn’t be qualified as a crime.
The Council of the Human Rights Center Viasna directly associates the search at the office of the human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou with his active public position. In particular, recently he has participated in the monitoring of the local council elections. Instead of detaining the neo-Nazis who act in Navapolatsk and Polatsk, the authorities use every possibility to exercise pressure on the human rights defender and hinder his human rights, civil and cultural activities.
We state our decisive protest in connection with the actions of the authorities seeking to limit the activities of the human rights defender Zmitser Salauyou and call on them to stop the unjustified pressurization of the human rights defender, immediately return to him the confiscated property and start looking for the real criminals!
Council of the Human Rights Center Viasna