Yelena Tonkacheva: “All that happened yesterday at Pershamaiski DPD in Minsk seems to be a planned farce”
Press conference of the chairperson of the board of the Center for Legal Transformation «Lawtrend» Yelena Tonkacheva, which took place on November 6 at the office of HRC "Viasna", barely accommodated all journalists, human rights activists and public figures.
The decision of the citizenship and migration division of the Pershamajski District Police Department of Minsk on the expulsion of the citizen of the Republic of Russia Yelena Tonkacheva was a surprise to many. Although the procedure of deprivation of residence in respect of Yelena Tonkacheva living in Belarus since 1985, was filed in September of this year, few people expected such unexpected result of the four cases of video registration of speed excess by the car, registered in the name of human rights activist.
Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", is sure that “a person living in the country since 1985 must not be deprived for crossing the street in the wrong place, traveling on the tram without a ticket, or for excessing the speed by 10 kilometers”, and it witnesses the political motivation behind this decision.
Yelena Tonkacheva, who has waited for the decision on the expulsion at the Pershamaiski DPD for a long time on November 5, shared her impressions: "Imagine a former high school in the center of Minsk, surrounded by a high iron fence with barbed iron wire on the top. What is the agency, which should deal with the protection of public order, can be so afraid of? 7,000 signatures which were collected in my support were ignored, they weren't even mentioned during the consideration of my question. All that happened yesterday at the Pershamaiski DPD seemed to be a preplanned farce.
They could consider the issue of my expulsion at 12 a.m., as intended, the more that the decision had been taken in advance. They just calmly and cynically tested what would happen next.
I think that the Pershamaiski DPD is a neat layout of the country. Here there are people with officer insignia for whom the notion of officer in a position means nothing, who haunt Vinahradau and expell Tonkacheva, who willingly commit perjury. This is a layout of the country in which people in uniform do not have a clue about what a citizen is.
All that concerns the remnants of my legal education and my neutrality, ended yesterday. Why? Because yesterday, leading me from the 1rst to the 3rd floor three policemen smiled and told me "Yelena Borisovna, everything will be alright". I asked them to lead my daughter in. “What for? Everything will be alright, you have also collected that many signatures. You have such support, and the violations are insignificant.” Then a big cheese stood up and said: “I decided to ban you entry to the country for three years. These people are so retouched that one cannot immediately make out that abomination in them.
Speaking at the press-conference, Chairman of of the national human rights organization "Belarusian Helsinki Committee" Aleh Hulak said that it was quite hard to apply any legal categories in the case of the expulsion of Tonkacheva: "I do not really understand the logic of this step of the authorities - well, they have released Bialiatski, and there were at least expectations for some common sense. It is unclear who needs this expulsion. The question is what we can do in this situation in order to restore this common sense and help the person. It is extremely hard to do anything except for actions of solidarity in such a lawless situation. I hope that the organization will continue its activities, and our joint activities will go on.”
Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Centre "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich stated that Yelena Tonkacheva and the organization she heads are one of the main subjects of the human rights movement in Belarus, and therefore such action of the authorities cannot be incidental.
"It is politically motivated actions of the authorities that now lead to the fact that one of the leading human rights defenders is sent out of the country for 3 years. Such actions show the real intentions of the authorities and of the continuing offensive on the human rights community. At one time, in 2011, we underwent a series of searches, then the persecution of Ales Bialiatski, and this is another link of the chain. It is a pity that we are returning to these events. Perhaps this is due to the “excessive” activity of the Center for Legal Transformation towards communication with the Special Rapporteur on the Universal Periodic Review, although this procedure is quite legitimate, or to some other reasons we don't know.
The situation with the expulsion from Belarus of Tonkacheva reminded me the registration of “Viasna”. The law states that the registration authority has the right to provide a delay in registration, but if we ask why such a delay was not given so that we could correct the information about the place of work of one of the founders by writing “secondary school of general education” instead of “secondary school”, we are told: "We are not required to do so, it's just our right to give such deferment or not to give it. And we did as we wanted to.”
The same happened to Yelena. Law does not require public authorities to deprive her of residence and expel her, they only have the right to do it. And they did. That's why for getting the answer to the question why they have used this right, you need to look at the political motivation of this decision."