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2003 2003-08-11T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 8 August Minsk city court set the hearing on the case of liquidation of legal Assistance to Public human rights organization to September 5.
Justice Ministry officials state that that the NGO had no permit to give legal advice to people, thus its activities were illegal. Moreover, the Justice Ministry states the NGO charged people for the services.
On 8 August Minsk city court Judge Natalla Zhulikava held a preliminary session on the case. She set the trial for September 5. Aleh Volchak, head of Legal Assistance to Public, says the accusations are absurd. He states they never took any money for the services; at the same time, rendering legal assistance to citizens is the direct and primary goal of the organization, declared in their statute. Aleh Volchak believes the Justice Ministry has other reasons to persecute the human rights organization.
Volchak: “To my mind, in this way they are preparing for the referendum. This is the first reason. Secondly, they hope to intimidate other human rights organizations and activists. Thirdly, they are closing us down to deprive us of the possibility to write reports on elections and referendums and send them to the international structures. The last but not the least, they did not forgive us our investigation into Zakharanka’s disappearance and Niamiha tragedy cases”.
Mr. Shcharbachevich, representative of Justice Department of Minsk city executive Committee, entirely supports the suit, filed by the Justice Ministry. Shcharbachevich, together with Justice Ministry officials Kharyton and Bondar, might face a criminal charge.
Volchak says, they plan to charge them with “administrative excess” and “interference in activities of non-governmental organizations”. Volchak: “The officials were drunk when they came to our office and stole the documents from our lawyer’s desk. They did not draw up any report. It’s time for the prosecutor’s office to look into it”.
The head of Legal Assistance to Public says, no matter what court decision is made, their organization will continue its activities.
Based on RFE/RL information

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