Political prisoners of a very high caliber may appear in Belarus.
Legal inspector of the independent trade union of the radio-electronic industry workers (REP) in the Homel region, laureate of the Charter’97 annual award in 2017 Leanid Sudalenka said this to Charter97.org, commenting on the "trade unions case":
- From the materials of the criminal case against the leaders of the REP trade union Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, it follows that they are charged over the episodes of 2011. We immediately have a logical question, if the investigation had this information back then, then why did they not use it for seven whole years? And after all the "trade unions case" has begun in August of the last year. It was when our trade union effectively fought against the scandalous decrees on "parasites". We then worked very fruitfully against this decree, the struggle gave an effect and, in my opinion, the authorities want to "cut off the head" of the REP trade union just for its activity.
- How does the independent trade union work now?
- Our trade union does not stop protecting ordinary workers all over Belarus for a day. In the same Homel region trials are constantly running, which we often win, because we protect the socio-economic rights of each individual employee, regardless of where they are violated. Of course, the vivid activity of our trade union did not remain unnoticed by the authorities.
- What is your prediction about the "trade union case"?
- The sanctions of the article, under which Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik are charged, provide for several options. The first - restriction of freedom for the term of up to five years, the second, more severe punishment - imprisonment for a period of up to seven years. It's hard for me to say which way the authorities will go.
The fact is that the leaders of our trade union are already under an obligation not to leave the city since August 2017. Roughly speaking, Fiadynich, in order to come to Homel to meet with the trade union active, had to apply for the investigator's consent. I'm not talking about going abroad. They generally do not have such an opportunity!
In this regard, why should the authorities now, let's say, use "soft punishment"? Due to the fact that the final charge was brought very sharply and the case will undoubtedly be sent to court, I forecast a severe sentence related to deprivation of liberty. The article also provides for the confiscation of property. For Fiadynich, who is 61, this will be a difficult challenge.
In general, it is very likely that two new political prisoners of a very high caliber will appear in the country. Perhaps, the authorities will try to bargain with the West or, for example, with the International Monetary Fund.
- What does the REP trade union intend to do now?
- We are now applying for protest pickets all over the country. In particular, about seven pickets have been applied for in the Homel region. We protest and declare that the "trade unions case" is of a purely political nature. There is nothing legal about it.
Everything lies on the surface and, I think, only a political decision can affect this matter. How the authorities will behave now: recruit new political prisoners or reject this idea. We will see. I think, within the next month, the "trade unions case" will be sent to court. We will follow it and come to the hearings.
Of course, I would like to see justice triumph, and all charges being lifted off our leaders. It is known that there is no serious evidence. Xerocopies of some papers and nothing more. We will observe this process.