12 August 2020, Wednesday, 17:48
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Witness In ‘Trade Unions Case’: My Property Remains Unlawfully Detained By Investigatory Committee For Two Years By Now

Witness In ‘Trade Unions Case’: My Property Remains Unlawfully Detained By Investigatory Committee For Two Years By Now

Leanid Shchukin has addressed to Natallia Kachanava with an open letter.

Translator, activist of the REP trade union Leanid Shchukin, who was a witness in the “trade unions case”, wrote an open letter to Head of the Lukashenka administration Natallia Kachanava. He asked for explanations on what basis the Investigatory Committee refuses to return him the equipment seized two years ago, praca-by.info reports.

Please find below the full text of Leanid Shchukin’s letter:

Dear Mrs. Kachanava!

I don’t have many expectations that my letter will reach you (although there’s still little hope after your words that you “want to hear everyone”), but I am writing to you herewith, and sending my letter to you - maybe some of your staff will want to read it and find out how the subordinate structure of your administration works (as you know, everything in this country subordinates to it after all).

My case is very simple and is probably unworthy of any attention, but it has literally become a matter of life and death for me.

Due to some unclear whim of financial investigator S.Dzmitryeu, I was involved as a witness in the criminal case # 17081100001 (the case of independent trade unions, also known as Fiadynich-Komlik case), and, due to the whim of the same person they searched the apartment where I live in on August 7, 2017, and confiscated the computer equipment belonging to me and my wife - three computers and a mobile phone - allegedly for checking. Can you imagine what it’s like - to deprive a translator of all instruments of production, and means of subsistence! It’s the same as to cut down a mechanic’s arms! As a result of this “confiscation”, I have suffered (and am still suffering) a considerable material damage, not to mention the moral one.

The logic of the investigator mentioned above looks all the more strange since, in the period under consideration in the case (2011-12), the REP union was just one of my clients (later I became an activist and a trade union group curator of this union), along with many enterprises, institutions, ministries and departments (including the Chief Economic Department of the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Republic of Belarus). It makes me shiver to imagine that if criminal cases are instituted against each of my former clients (God forbid!), and I am involved in them as a witness, and they confiscate office equipment every time, no pension will be enough to buy computers!

The criminal case was closed long ago, the verdict was announced and entered into force (a year ago), the union leaders are serving their liberty restriction (most of the charges were not confirmed in court and were canceled by the judge).

The materials of the case contain the conclusion of the experts of the IC that no materials of interest to the case were found in my office equipment.

I received a response from the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus: “In the framework of the criminal case, the property mentioned was not recognized as material evidence”.

Due to the fact that I am a working translator, the specified office equipment is vital for me to work. In addition, the seized computers contain documents necessary for tax inspection. Every day I suffer material damage due to the fact that I have to use rented equipment. For two years now, my property has been illegally held by the employees of the Investigatory Committee of the Republic of Belarus, which, as you know, is a criminal offense.

In January of this year, I already made a similar request to the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Belarus, to which I received (promptly and timely) a response signed by Mr. Shlyk, head of the main department for working with citizens and legal entities: “Your electronic request has been sent to The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Belarus with the order to inform you of the results of the check. ” The Prosecutor General’s Office is also very quick ... they forwarded my appeal to the Prosecutor’s Office of the city of Minsk, which immediately forwarded it back to the Investigatory Committee in Minsk.

My correspondence about the return of the office equipment already makes a decent volume. These are mainly the redirections to this Investigatory Committee, with the categorical promise of “giving an answer to the applicant”.

All my appeals to different authorities are invariably redirected to the management of the IC in Minsk, from which I received another answer on February 14, 2019, signed by Mr. U. Bialkouski: “There were no violations in the seizure and determination of the place of storage of the property confiscated from you by the criminal prosecution body. The property was seized in the manner prescribed by law. ” Who would doubt that! I talk about thomas and you talk about jonas! It was seized, packed, taken away in a passenger car and, I am sure, it has been stored, for exactly two years by now, in the most reliable, dry, well-heated and ventilated room of the Investigatory Committee - in strict accordance with the law. Still: the equipment is expensive - see the list below. But I do not ask in each statement about the storage conditions of my office equipment - I demand that it should be returned to me!

The Prosecutor’s Office forwards my appeal to the court and explains to me: “when deciding the verdict, the court in the deliberation room resolves the question of what to do with the property that was seized, and physical evidence.” A year passed after the landmark court session (more precisely, judge M. A. Fiodarava, who decided everything on her own), but the judge did not do anything with my office equipment, which failed to become material evidence.

In the imperishable miniature of Mikhail Zhvanetsky, brilliantly performed by the Arkady Raikin Theater, it was called “play the fool” (remember?): Write, answer, load mail and drag time ... They tell us about pumps, and we tell them about wheels …

And it's not just about me! From the office of the REP trade union and from the office of our fraternal BNP trade union in Salihorsk, as well as from the activists of these trade unions, a huge (by the standards of these public associations) amount of office equipment has been seized, and has still not been returned to the rightful owners.

What is left to do? Prepare documents and go to court against the IC demanding the return of the office equipment, appealing to fraternal foreign and international organizations for joint support, as was the case in the trade unions? Do we need this? Especially ahead of the upcoming elections?

I earnestly ask you to intervene and resolve the issue of returning confiscated office equipment to me and other persons and organizations.

Here is the list of the office equipment seized from me:

Mobile phone SAMSUNG DOOS IMEI 356509/06/391603/5

Laptop Acer MS2231

Laptop HP Elitebook 2540p

PC desktop system unit

Best regards,

Shchukin L.M.

In August 2017, searches were carried out at the office of the REP union, as well as at the homes of leaders and activists of the organization, during which personal equipment was seized. At the same time, searches and seizure of equipment took place in the office of the BNP trade union in Salihorsk and in the apartments of the chairman and secretary-treasurer. Despite the fact that almost a year has passed since the verdict was announced in the “trade unions case”, the seized items still have not been returned to their rightful owners.