Trial of Ales Bialiatski (updated)

2011 2011-11-02T11:50:11+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Extraordinary precautions have been used since 9 a.m. near the building of the Maskouski District Court of Minsk. Special police forces and several cars of the road police arrived. Private parking spaces were fenced with protective police tapes. The people who wanted to attend the trial started gathering at the entrance. At 9.30 a.m. Ales Bialiatski was guarded to the court.

Journalists without journalist ID’s weren’t let in the court hall. There are leaders of civil movements and parties and representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in the court hall. Zmitser Salauyou wasn't let in the court hall before the beginning of the trial because of wearing a T-shirt with the inscription "Freedom to Ales Bialiatski!", and Ina Kulei, Chairperson of the Committee for the Protection of the Repressed Solidarity, was removed from the court hall because of wearing such T-shirt.

The judge did not grant the motions of the defense to conduct the trial in the Belarusian language and change the restraint to Ales Bialiatski.

The consideration of motions is over. Prosecutor Zaikouski reads the charges to Bialiatski. According to him, Bialiatski violated the Tax Code and evaded from paying 352,274,000 rubles of taxes. Thus, he inflicted an especially large-scale loss to the state. The prosecutor calls the numbers of accounts in the Nordbank (Lithuania) and Bank Śląski (Poland).

The prosecutor addressed Bialiatski with the proposal to give sincere answers and stated that it would be possible to change the restraint to him in this case and release him on bail, on personal guarantees or as a result of the compensation of the financial loss inflicted to the state.  

1 p.m. a break till 2 p.m. was announced.

Ales Bialiatski tells about the history of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. The organization was liquidated and all attempts to get registered with the state didn’t bring any results. That’s why the human rights defender opened two accounts – in Poland and Lithuania, in order to receive means for human rights activities from international partners of “Viasna”.

Ales Bialiatski personally translates documents and consequently enumerates the transfers, in which it was stated that money were transferred to his account for “Viasna” and for concrete projects, in particular – for a mission to Kazakhstan, for a human rights conference and the publication of a brochure about elections in Belarus.

Bialiatski made a statement: “I was the owner of the account, but the money was spent on activities of “Viasna” and our partners in Belarus. I didn’t use these means for my own purposes – appropriate agreements were composed for their usage. Samples of such agreements are present at KGB. Apart from them, there existed other documents. I wasn’t the owner of the money, but an intermediate link. These means concerned the work of regional public reception rooms of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” and were passed to victims of political repressions. Reports about the use of the money for tickets, the publication of bulletins and support to victims of political repressions were submitted to our international partners. Moreover, not all of this money was spent in Belarus, a part of them was spent abroad, on printed production and education. I don’t see any profit received by me from this money. Personally I didn’t bring it to Belarus.” (RFE/RL)

The lawyer asked the court to request the acts of customs examination of Ales Bialiatski and the acts of the tax inspection concerning Bialiatski’s income and assets for 200-2010. The prosecutor didn’t object. The judge satisfied the motions.

The Ambassador of Poland, Leszek Szerepka, came to the trial, as Poland not only perceives the evident political motivation of the trial, but also feels personal guilt for Ales Bialiatski.

“Being representatives of the European Union, we have always tried to participate in all politically motivated trials. I think that this trial is of such a kind. We can see many representatives of different diplomatic missions there. We also have personal responsibility, as partially we are to blame that Mr. Bialiatski is kept in jail. The Belarusian side abused our trust, as the law which we had signed was aimed at combating hard crimes, whereas here it is used to imprison a human rights defender. We think that the imprisonment of a human rights activist is unacceptable,” reports Radio “Racyja”.

The judge announced a break in the hearings till 10 a.m. on 3 November.