Viktar Babaryka sentenced to 14 years in prison
On 6 July, Maskouski District Court of Minsk pronounced the verdicts in the high-profile and resonant "Belgazprombank case", in which a political prisoner, ex-banker, former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka is a defendant. Judge of the Supreme Court Ihar Liubavitski sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment, having found Viktar Babaryka guilty of grand bribery (Part 3 Article 430 of the Criminal Code) and legalization of proceeds from crime (Part 2 Article 235 of the Criminal Code). In addition, the political prisoner was punished with a fine of 145 thousand rubles (57 thousand US dollars). Also, Viktar was deprived of the right to occupy managerial positions for some time. Viktar Babaryka did not plead guilty. The other defendants in the case were sentenced to imprisonment of 3 to 6.5 years, one was sentenced to five years of "house arrest". The sentence is not subject to appeal.
According to the prosecution, Viktar Babaryka "set up a stable group of bank officials" and led it with the "aim of committing a long-term, indefinite crime". The group's criminal activity consisted of "systematic receipt of bribes by Babaryko himself and other members of the criminal group".
Viktar Babaryka was detained on 18 June 2020 together with his son Eduard on his way to the CEC to hand over the collected signatures.
The member of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Board Valiantsin Stefanovich expressed the organization's position on the announced verdict:
"The investigation and the trial in this case were held with gross violations of the principles of a fair trial. This unjust and cruel verdict confirmed our conviction that the prosecution of Viktar Babaryka was politically motivated.
The essence of this criminal case is persecution for exercising the right of Viktar Babaryka to govern his country through participation in free and democratic elections held regularly.
We reiterate our demand to the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Viktar Babaryka, members of his initiative group and election campaign team".