Trial of Ales Bialiatski, day 2 (updated)

2011 2011-11-03T13:16:01+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Ales Bialiatski at trial. Photo by European Radio for Belarus

Ales Bialiatski at trial. Photo by European Radio for Belarus

The trial of the Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights Ales Bialiatski continues at the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk.

During the first day of the trial the prosecutor read the accusation. The court started questioning Bialiatski. Today the court will question witnesses, including friends and relatives of Ales Bialiatski.

The trial is led by Judge Siarhei Bandarenka, with participation of prosecutor Saikouski and counsel Zmitser Layeuski.

The lawyer asks to attach the charter of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” to the case. The judge granted the motion. The counsel prepared print-outs from the websites of the organizations which are mentioned in the bank information. The print-outs tell about activities of these organizations. Russian translations are attached. The judge attached these materials to the case. The counsel also brought to the trial a book in Swedish. The book includes an essay by Bialiatski, the honorarium for which was transferred to his bank account and is mentioned in the bank papers. The lawyer solicits for the attachment of the book “Build Bridges…” (Vilnius, 2010, published by the Human Rights Center “Viasna”) and the “Manual for the organization of human rights schools” (Oslo 2008, Minsk 2009). Yesterday Bialiatski explained that the received money was also spent on the publication of these books and they were a fruit of “Viasna”s activities. The judge granted the motion. (Nasha Niva)

The questioning of the accusation’s witnesses starts. Leanid Chauko, Deputy Chairman of the humanitarian activities department of the Presidential Administration, is questioned first.

The second witness is Anzhalika Sobaleva, an officer of the tax inspection of the Pershamaiski District of Minsk. She says that she has known Bialiatski as a taxpayer since 2008. Sobaleva doesn’t know about the testimonies of other witnesses during the preliminary investigation. The lawyer asks why her answers are identical with answers of her chief, and draws the attention to the fact that even the grammatical mistakes in the both testimonies are the same. The woman says that not all graphs of bank documents were considered during the check-up, only the sums of transfers, which were counted as Bialiatski’s income.

Bialiatski asks her about inscriptions in foreign languages in graphs of the bank documents. She answers that she can see where the money came from, but cannot read it correctly. She thinks that the inscriptions in the graphs are names of banks.

The following witness is Natallia Pashkouskaya, head of the board of the SWIFT international payment system of the National Bank of Belarus. Pashkouskaya looked through the account statements provided by banks of Lithuania and Poland. According to her, these documents don’t correspond to international standards – they can only correspond to the standards of a concrete bank. She couldn’t tell anything about the addressee of the money transfers. “I cannot give any concrete testimony, I can only comment SWIFT-messages”, she said.

Then the court questioned Tamara Shamkuts, deputy head of the tax inspection. She explained that she had issued decisions concerning acts of audition of Bialiatski’s income and stated that all income, received from abroad, is liable to taxation, unless the taxpayers have documents that provide them with tax benefits. If financial means are received by taxpayers for somebody else, they need to provide the appropriate documents, agreements and errands.

Human rights defender Barys Zvoskau is questioned next. He is asked whether he has any bank accounts abroad. He said that he doesn’t have any at the moment and doesn’t remember if Bialiatski transferred any money for him. Zvoskau also reminds the court when his interrogation was conducted during the investigation. It is stated that 8,000 Euros was transferred for Barys Zvoskau. He denies it, and states that such information is untrue and fabricated.

The following witness is Andrei Paluda from Bialynichy. He says he knows Bialiatski, gives his testimony in the Belarusian language. He answers the bulk of the questions asked with one sentence: “I have the right not to testify against myself according to Article 27 of the Constitution”. However, Mr. Paluda confessed receiving from Bialiatski financial means for human rights activities and reporting to Bialiatski about the results. He says that it was neither his, nor Bialiatski’s profit. (Nasha Niva).

Human rights defender Tatsiana Raviaka says she has known Ales Bialiatski for 20 years and worked with him in Maksim Bahdanovich museum and at the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, has friendly relations with him.

She states that she didn’t receive any money in “Viasna”, but received financial means for human rights activities from Bialiatski. She refuses to tell the sums and to speak about foreign bank accounts. The prosecutor shows her a print-out with her surname. “The spelling of the surname differs from the spelling in my passport. Maybe it’s someone else?” assumes Tatsiana.

The questioning of Viktar Sazonau from Hrodna begins. The human rights defender also refers to Article 27 of the Constitution which gives the right not to testify against oneself. Sazonau says he didn’t receive any reward for his work in “Viasna”, just money for human rights activities. “Neither Bialiatski, nor I received any profit from this money”, says Mr. Sazonau.

Witness Aliaksei Kolchyn, an entrepreneur from Mahiliou, a member of the Mahiliou Human Rights Center, is interrogated. He refuses to tell anything about foreign accounts, financial transfers and journeys abroad with Ales Bialitski. The prosecutor shows him Xerox copies of receipts signed by Kolchyn. The latter refuses to explain anything, referring to Article 27 of the Constitution. Bialiatski’s counsel declares a protest, saying that the way the receipts were acquired is unknown.

The following witness is Bialiatski’s wife, Natallia Pinchuk. She refuses to testify referring to her right not to do it.

Alena Laptsionak is interrogated. At first the police refused to let her in the court hall, as she was wearing a T-shirt with the inscription “Freedom to Bialiatski!” Alena has known Bialiatski since 1987. “We have engaged in human rights activities together,” said Alena. At the end of her testimony she took of her blouse, under which there was the T-shirt. The public met this performance with applause.

The judge decided to postpone the consideration of the documents which were requested from the border control committee and the tax inspection on solicitation of the defense. They will be considered as soon as the prosecutor receives them. The interrogation of witnesses is over, the accusation is reading aloud the case materials.