REP leaders face final charges
On May 8, leaders of the Belarusian trade union REP Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik faced final charges of large-scale tax evasion (part 2 of Article 243 of the Criminal Code).
“According to the investigation, we are to blame for the fact that in 2011 the REP trade union failed to pay 22,867.10 rubles in taxes (USD 11,300). I am not guilty and I will never admit I am. I believe that the case is politically motivated, whose main goal is putting pressure on me as the trade union leader, the REP trade union and the independent trade union movement as a whole,” Henadz Fiadynich said in a comment for praca-by.info.
The activists will have a month to read the case file, after which the criminal case will be sent to court.
Meanwhile, Fiadynich is still under travel restrictions, which may prevent him from attending the International Labor Conference on May 29 - June 4 in Geneva.
On April 17-19, Belarus was visited by a joint mission of the International Trade Union Confederation and the Global Union IndustriAll. The mission expressed concern over harassment of independent trade unions and violations of workers’ rights in Belarus. A separate issue in the talks was the criminal case against the leaders of the REP trade union. Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary at IndustriAll, said that the mission called on the Belarusian government to stop the prosecution of the REP leaders.
The charges faced by Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik stem from information obtained by financial police during a raid on REP’s offices in Minsk on August 2, 2017.
Ihar Komlik spent two months in pre-trial detention, before being released on bail on October 2, 2017.
The criminal investigation has been extended several times, with the last deadline expiring on May 1.
“The human rights community insists on the termination of the criminal prosecution of the independent trade union activists. Our assessment has not changed, we still believe the case is politically motivated, opened in connection with the exercise of freedom of association, as well as the vigorous activity of the REP Trade Union for the protection of social and political rights of the citizens Belarus,” Valiantsin Stefanovich, Board member of the HRC "Viasna", said.