Customs official: “Only enemies have problems at check-points”

The European Radio for Belarus tried to find out whether customs officials can check your PC and received advice from them: “Just say: I don’t have any anti-presidential propaganda there”.
The report about students shown by BT has raised the issue of notebooks, flash memory devices and other information media again. “Panarama” showed notebooks that were said to contain materials on terrorism in hidden files. We leave the fact that the notebooks were confiscated a year ago on the conscience of BT journalists.

ERB found a programmer who needed 15 minutes to refute the fact that the materials were secret. Andrei Ivanou easily found all the files in the Internet. Interestingly, there were the same pages as BT showed in their official report. There is no sense if hiding such files because they can be easily found in the world web.

Andrei Іvanou: “I found practically all of those pages with the help of Yandex by typing “explosives” in the search field. It is just as easy to find the manual on suicides “100 ways to suicide” that was shown in the report”.

Whether it is necessary to declare notebooks, whether the duty should be imposed on them and whether they can be confiscated – are difficult questions for customs officials. ERB heard different opinions at Hrodna frontier. By the way, all of ERB interviewees confessed that they had watched the report shown in “Panarama”.

A customs official: “What if you have some dangerous audio or video materials? Notebooks must be declared but duties are not imposed on them. Do not worry, people go and come. Only enemies have problems. If your conscience is clear and “your cover has not been blown” nobody will check you. Just say: I don’t have any anti-presidential propaganda there”.

Another customs official said that notebook does not have to be declared but can be checked. By the way, none of the customs officials has ever checked files or software”.

One more customs official: “No, it is not necessary to declare them. There is nothing personal for customs control. All you have should be checked and analyzed…”

You cannot transport materials that can do harm to the economic, political or cultural situation in Belarus. But customs officials do not know how to find out what can do harm. It is not clear where you should go to confirm that there is nothing dangerous in you notebook so that you would not have problems at check-points

At the acme time, a lawyer and customs agent Halina says you do not have to show your personal documents to anyone. You should declare your PC, write down its number, etc – but that’s all you have to do.

Halina: “You should declare your notebook when you are leaving the country. You will receive a punch proving that you had it when leaving the state. You will show the document when you come back and will not have to pay anyone. Here is my PC, but I don’t have to show my personal materials to anyone. They can be checked by the Public Prosecutor only. I think it is silly to depict it as terrorism”.
The Belarusian legislation is so vague that even customs officials do not know laws and act according to their intuition.

European Radio for Belarus expresses gratitude for the information to the site of Civil Forum of the Party of Freedom and Progress.