Belarús - Conviction of two officials from the Belarusian Radio and Electronics Industry Workers’ Union

On August 24 2018, after a two-week trial, Judge Marina Fedorova of the Sovetsky District Court of Minsk, found two officials of the Belarusian Radio and Electronics Industry Workers’ Union (REP), Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik, guilty of tax evasion and failing to submit tax declarations during 2011 to 2012. The two were sentenced to four years’ suspended imprisonment (the two are currently under a quasi-house arrest arrangement) and a ban on holding senior positions for five years. They were also fined US$23,000 and made to pay the costs of the trial.
During the verdict announcement, a picket line was organised near the House of Justice. Riot policemen detained the most active picketers, including REP union activists Pavel Mrochko and Alexander Chmyhov.
The convictions came after a 12-month investigation conducted by the Department of Financial Investigations of the State Control Committee, which began on 2 August 2017 when officers searched the premises of the REP and the affiliated Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BNP). During this search, officials seized union computers and financial documents and various union officials and activists, including union leaders Gennady Fedynich and Nikolai Zimin, who were briefly detained. Igor Komlik, the accountant of REP, was detained for two months. During the 12-month investigation of the case, Fedynich and Komlik had travel restrictions imposed on them.
In a letter to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy dated 13 December 2018, the decision was described by international peak union bodies as a miscarriage of justice and an attack on the trade union movement. It has been alleged that the case was politically motivated and that there was no valid evidence presented by the prosecution at trial. An appeal against the decision was rejected by the city court of Minsk on 9 November 2018..

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