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Independent trade union leaders stand trial in Minsk (video)

REP chief accountant Ihar Komlik and REP chairman Henadz Fiadynich. Photo:

The trial of Henadz Fiadynich, chairman of Belarusian Independent Trade Union REP, and Ihar Komlik's the organization's chief accountant, began on 30 July at Minsk's Saviecki District Court. The two are accused of large-scale tax evasion. 

In August 2017, the Financial Investigation Department agents raided the flats of Fiadynich and Komlik as well as the office of the REP trade union and the office of Belarusian Independent Trade Union in Salihorsk. The union leaders were detained but released shortly under thr written undertaking not to leave the country. 

Fiadynich and Komlik reportedly opened accounts on behalf of the trade union in a Lithuanian bank in order to receive money. According to the Investigation Committee, 140 000 euros arrived in their account from non-Belarusian residents in 2011. The unpaid taxes amounted to nearly BYN 23 000, according to the estimates of the State Control Committee. 

The maximum sentence Fiadynich and Komlik are facing is up to seven years in prison and possible confiscation of property.

Human rights defenders likened this 'trade unions case' with the case of prominent human rights activist Ales Bialiatski (started in 2011).