Former political prisoner calls for solidarity with independent trade union leaders

Mikalai Statkevich, Chairman of the Belarusian National Congress, and his associates are set to urge the authorities to stop the persecution of the independent trade unions.

Henadz Fyadynich and Ihar Komlik, the leaders of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) were charged with tax evasion on a large scale (Art. 243-2 of the Criminal Code of Belarus).

“The Council of the Belarusian National Congress supports REP activists’ initiative to address personal appeals to stop the persecution of Fyadynich and Komlik to the main instigator [president Alyaksandr Lukashenka],” the politician said on Facebook.

In addition, the Congress will demand to stop exerting pressure on the civil society and the independent press; release and rehabilitate all political prisoners.

The activists are going to file the appeals to the presidential administration on August 24. On this day, the sentence to Fyadynich and Komlik will be delivered in the House of Justice in Minsk.

In August 2017, the Minsk and Salihorsk offices of two key opposition trade unions were raided by the Department of Financial Investigations. Computers, hard drives were seized; the law enforcers were looking for documents. According to the investigation, trade union activists regularly traveled abroad to withdraw money from accounts in foreign accounts and bring them to Belarus.

A criminal case was initiated against the head of the Independent Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry (REP) Henadz Fyadynich and chief accountant Ihar Komlik. Fyadynich was released on his own recognizance; Komlik spent 2 months in jail and walked free in October. However, the both still may face up to seven years in prison and confiscation of property.Komlik and Fyadynich keep pleading not guilty.

According to Henadz Fyadynich, the case initiated is nothing but retaliation for their civic activity during spring ‘non-parasite’ protests.

“They want to block our work, to tame the union, to make us fulfil their orders. Unfortunately, the Investigative Committee or the authorities do not realise that such things taint the image of Belarus abroad,” Fyadynich told Belsat.