Partyzanski District Court: 54 + 2 million rubles to be exacted from Stefanovich
On 16 December
the Partyzanski District Tax Inspection of Minsk increased the sum of the claim
to Valiantsin Stefanovich to 53 million rubles. A representative of the tax
inspection stated that the statement that earlier information about
Stefanovich’s account in the Lithuanian bank SEB, provided by the Lithuanian
authorities, is incomplete, mustn’t be taken into account, because it wasn’t
specified what is incomplete. What concerns the documents concerning financial
transfers to his account, provided by Amnesty International and the Danish
Institute for Human Rights, the plaintiff thinks that these documents don’t
contain any errands to Stefanovich, but just specify that Stefanovich received
this money (more than 16,000 Euros).
The court started reading Stefanovich’s testimony of 2 December. It means that Stefanovich spent means of the Danish Institute for Human Rights (16,900 Euros) and Amnesty International (1,400 Euro) on the campaign against the death penalty and preparation of a yearly review of human rights violations in Belarus.
At present Stefanovich adds that a part of the money was passed to specialists for preparing a communication to the UN on behalf of relatives of the death convicts who were executed in 2009. Stefanovich didn’t mention the surnames of these people.
Valiantsin Stefanovich also stated that he acted not on his own behalf, but as a representative of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, which was deprived of the state registration in 2003. The illegality of the liquidation of “Viasna” was officially confirmed by the UN, which stated that
its members had the right to re-registration and compensation.
3.36 p.m. The trial continues. Stefanovich solicited for making a court inquiry to the Ministry of Justice of Lithuania with the aim to find out which part of the information that had been passed to the Ministry of Dues and Taxes of Belarus, was incomplete. However, Judge Veranika Abramovich dismissed his motion. The court proceeded to reading written materials of the case.
4.45 p.m. The court finished studying the case materials. The court read granted Stefanovich’s motion for reading his explanations from the administrative violation report. In these explanations he stated that he had spent the money for human rights activities. The court debates started. The representative of the tax inspection Sviatlana Alesik stated that the ruling concerning the fine to Stefanovich was lawful, as the money he had received was taxable income.
4.50 p.m. Valiantsin Stefanovich expressed his disagreement. He said that he was the deputy head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” which rendered aid to victims of political repressions, prepared human rights reviews and participated in nationwide campaigns, including the campaign against the death penalty. HRC “Viasna” concluded agreements with international human rights organizations in order to receive support or such activities. Bank accounts were opened in Lithuania for this purpose, and finances were transferred to them by Amnesty International and the Danish Institute for Human Rights. This is also confirmed by documents submitted by these organizations. Stefanovich again stated that he had never used this money as personal income.
5 p.m. Stefanovich referred to the letter from the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice, where it was stated that the information that had been provided about his account, was invalid, and the court failed to disprove it. He also said that the administrative case against him was directly related to the KGB pressure on “Viasna” and reminded about the letter of the head of the KGB Zaitsau to the deputy Prosecutor General Shved where it was stated that the opposition was financed through “Viasna”. Stefanovich said it was false and “Viasna” protected political prisoners and victims of repressions and will continue doing it. He added that tax inspectors held check-ups concerning him and his relatives every year and failed to find any discrepancies between profits and expenditures. That’s why he considered it as unlawful persecution and asked the court not to grant the lawsuit of the tax inspection.
5.35 p.m. The court granted the lawsuit of the tax inspectors and ruled that 54 million Belarusian rubles and also 2 more million rubles were to be exacted from the defendant. Stefanovich stated that he would appeal against this verdict.