19 January 2018, Friday, 22:21

Deputy mayor of Minsk blames secret services


Ihar Vasilyeu reports about pressure from the secret services and refuses to give evidence.

The Minsk regional court began today to hear a criminal case against former deputy head of the Minsk city executive committee Ihar Vasilyeu for violating part 3 of article 430 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (accepting a bribe on an especially large scale by an official). The article provides for punishment of up to 15 years in prison and confiscation of property, Yezhednevnik writes.

Vasilyeu said at trial he didn't agree with the charges. The official says he refuses to give evidence unless the court examines materials of the investigation and hears witnesses.

According to materials of the investigation, representatives of a Czech firm, which was interested in construction of a waste recycling plant near Minsk, contacted Vasilyeu about 18 months. They told the official they used plasma technologies, which were a cutting-edge method of recycling.

The investment agreement was signed  in 2011, but  construction works didn't start in 2012.  The Minsk city executive committee had the right to terminate the agreement. Vasilyeu met with the investors many times. The management of the Czech firm assured the official the construction would begin soon and offered to review the agreement. At one of the meetings, representative of the Czech firm Ananyev said the firm heads from the Czech Republic had a souvenir for Vasilyeu.

Vasilyeu agreed to accept the souvenir and  invited Ananyev to come to his office on July 6. According to the defendant, the Czech firm representative appeared in his office carrying a black suitcase. “He asked where he should put the suitcase. I waved my hand towards the cabinet.” Several men, who introduced themselves as KGB officers, entered the office just after Ananyev left. They searched the office and found a suitcase with 250 thousand dollars in it.

The official was detained. He signed confession admitting he had received a bribe to settle the issue of the investment agreement in favour of the investor. He also wrote he repented.

Vasilyeu said during the trial he had confessed under pressure from the secret services. He was said he could see a lawyer only if he signed confession. Secret service officers also promised he would have a softer measure of restraint in this case. It later turned out that the confession only harmed the defendant.

Vasilyeu disagrees with the charge of extortion. He says they didn't discuss the issue with the investors except for Ananyev's proposal to present a “souvenir”. He explained during the investigation that he suspected there was money in the suitcase in his cabinet, but he didn't know how much.