Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich is tried today
The administrative trial on exaction of
taxes from Valiantsin Stefanovich started at the Partyzanski District Court of
Minsk at 10 a.m
on 1 December. It was to have taken place back on 15 November, but was
postponed as the defendant couldn't attend it for family reasons.
At 11.30 there also started the consideration of Stefanovich's appeal against the fine of 4,750,000 rubles, imposed on him by the Partyzanski District Tax Inspection of Minsk on 19 October because of alleged non-payment of taxes.
Before the beginning of the trial Valiantsin Stefanovich filed an appeal with the head of the court concerning process violations during the preliminary procedures.
Representative of the tax inspection moved for the increase of the sum of the lawsuit to 43,474,110 rubles, which includes 31,515,540 rubles of unpaid taxes.
Judge Abramovich turned down Stefanovich's motion for the postponement of the trial till the consideration of his appeal against actions of the tax inspection within the framework of another trial, appointed on 11.30 a.m. Instead, she announced a break till 2.15 p.m.
2.15 – The trial continues. Representatives of the Partyzanski District Tax Inspection of Minsk voiced the provisions of the Tax Code, according to which Stefanovich allegedly hadn't paid taxes in 2009-2010. Tax inspectors had found it after checking his income declarations and information from the Lithuanian bank SEB.
A representative of the inspection also stated that Mr. Stefanovich had been many times proposed to provide documents that money had been passed to other persons, but he had refused, that's why the tax inspection insisted on its suit.
2.44 – Valiantsin Stefanovich starts giving explanations. He says that he was handed a verification act, but wasn’t been told that he could give explanations and wasn’t offered to do it. He states that, being the Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, he really concluded agreements with a number of persons in order to receive finances for support to victims of political repressions. He passed this money in conformity with the agreements.
Stefanovich asks: “Where can references to my refusal to provide such documents be found?” A representative of the plaintiff states that he was proposed to do it many times. Another representative of the tax inspection confirms that when the verification act was composed, Stefanovich was proposed to provide appropriate documents, but the form of the act doesn’t provide the registration of such a proposal.
The judge asks the tax inspectors whether they explained to Stefanovich his right to give explanations later on. The representative of the tax inspection repeats that he was proposed to give explanations and was informed about his right to provide the documents later. Officers of the tax inspection insist that the registration of such proposals is not provided by the form of the act.
Stefanovich pointed out that document concerning his Lithuanian bank account lacked necessary official details. The tax inspectors explained that it was a translation. It was found that money was transferred to Stefanovich’s accounts from unknown sources. Tax inspectors stated that there were three such sources. “It doesn’t matter for us whether these were physical or juridical bodies,” explained the tax inspectors.
It turned out that the tax officers don’t have the original document from Lithuania, just the translation which they were given in the Chamber of Commerce.
Stefanovich asks why they conducted the check-up and is answered that it was done on errand of the Ministry of Dues and Taxes.
Stefanovich asks whether there was a check-up concerning him for 2008? At first the tax officers say there was no such a check-up, but then say that they need to check the information.
The explanations of the tax officers are over.
2.55 – After this, Stefanovich solicits for attaching to the case the information of “Amnesty International”, according to which money wasn’t transferred for Stefanovich’s personal purposes and that a check-up of the expenditures was conducted, as a result of which it was confirmed that the means were spent on human rights activities. He also asks to attach the document from the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice that the previous information about the accounts of Bialiatski and Stefanovich is invalid. These documents are officially certified. The court grants the petition and attaches all documents to the case.
Stefanovich says that he gave such explanations earlier, and adds that he was unable to provide the documents in August-September, because he wasn’t in Belarus due to the criminal prosecution of “Viasna” at the time. However, later he returned and now he can provide these documents (RFE/RL).
The judge announced a break till 2.15 on 16 December. Stefanovich quotes a law according to which the money that is received for passing to third parties are not taxed. The tax officers have no questions to Stefanovich, but ask seven days to study some documents.
The second trial started at 11.40 a.m. with the consideration of Stefanovich's appeal against the Partyzanski District tax Inspection. Earlier the defendant had also filed a complaint about process violations committed by Judge Valchkova during the first consideration of his appeal, that's why he moved for the postponement of the trial till the consideration of his complaint.
Judge Valchkova went out to her room to take a decision. On her return she turned the motion down, after which Stefanovich challenged the judge. The judge turned this motion down as well, and announced a break till 12.45 a.m.
After the break she ruled not to grant his appeal against the Partyzanski District Tax Inspection of Minsk, thus leaving in force the fine of 4,750,000 rubles, imposed on him by the tax officers.