Trial opens in trade union leaders’ tax-evasion case
The Court of Saviecki district of Minsk began today hearing the charges against Henadz Fiadynich, leader of the independent trade union of radio-electronic industry (REP), and the trade inion’s accountant Ihar Komlik. The activists are charged with large-scale tax-evasion (Part 2, Art. 243 of the Criminal Code).
The trial has attracted a lot of public attention. Dozens of opposition politicians and civil society leaders have come to show their support for the trade unionists. The hearing is also attended by Ilya Nuzov, a representative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
Meanwhile, human rights defenders monitoring the trial report limited public access to the hearing, as the premises can only accommodate 70 people. Moreover, Judge Maryna Fiodarava banned cameras from the courtroom.
Fiadynich and Komlik faced criminal charges in August 2017. According to the investigation, they concealed an income of 140,000 Euros.
The activists say the charges are “mythical”, arguing that the money was spent on the trade union’s activities, including legal advice to the victims of human rights violations during the social protests in February and March 2017.
The country’s human rights community clearly views the case as politically motivated and calls to drop the charges.