23 January 2018, Tuesday, 19:17

Aleh Vouchak: Purges in “parliament” demonstrate weakness of authorities


The very fact that members of parliament commit criminal offences shows the malfunction of the current authorities.

A special session of the “council of the republic” is called to “solve the issue on a consent to criminal prosecution of a member of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and to consider other questions if necessary”. There's no information about the name of an MP, but it is known that a member of the “council of the republic”, businessman from Mahilou Vitali Kastahorau, was detained by law-enforcement officers at a session and stripped of his immunity in July.

Charter97.org asks human rights defender Aleh Vouchak, former prosecution investigator and head of the organisation Legal Assistance to Citizens, who will be arrested next and why MPs began to face criminal prosecution more frequently.

– Calling a parliamentary meeting to solve the issues relating to criminal prosecution of an MP is both national and international practice. But the very fact makes us think. If even members of parliament commit criminal offences, what can we expect from ordinary people?

As far as we know, both cases are corruption-related. Why cannot society receive information who is the hero of criminal offences? Why do they give all information – names, telephone calls, all evidence – to media if an opposition member or a human rights activist is detained? In this case, the authorities remain silent. They do not reveal information about officials.

Let's assume that other MPs will agree that he should be detained. How can we control what will happen to him later? What if his offence included something more than embezzlement? What if he were a pedophile? We don't know the charges. Society should know the real face of representatives of the authorities. I think we'll see the real face of the parliament in any case. We never had incidents of criminal prosecution of members of parliament in times when opposition members had parliamentary seats. Let's recall MP Yury Dankov, the owner of Dankoff club and casino. Who are these MPs and what are they doing in the parliament if they violate our laws?

– Why has the number of “purges” increased lately? Can it be explained by Lukashenka's attempts to intimidate officials ahead of the “election”?

– Yes, it is explained by preparations for the “election”. Let's turn attention to the fact that several similar meetings are called during a short period of time. Lukashenka says he fights corruption successfully. We'll soon see daily and hourly reports saying that one official was arrested yesterday and another one was arrested today. Lukashenka shows how good he is. He sends the same anti-corruption message he did at the election 20 years ago. But he begins to forget who appointed MPs and judges, who gave his consent to dismiss directors of plants. All serious issues concerning high-ranking officials are not solved without his signature. They cannot make a step without his consent. These arrests do not improve his image. On the contrary, they show the weakness of the authorities that are unable to control corruption. How can we move further if nothing changes? This “fight” discredits him. No one thinks this is an honest and fair struggle.