REP News Special Issue, August 9, "trade union case" – Day 9

by praca
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The reports from the trial in Minsk are made on the daily basis by special correspondents of the praca-by.info and the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna”. See the footage of Day 9 of the trial below.

“Trade union Case”: Day 9 – detention of witnesses and interrogation of Igor Komlik

On August 9, the “trade unions case” was shocked by another scandal: early in the morning, the witnesses Nikolai Gerasimenko, Nadezhda Esipovich and Snezhana Grintsevich were detained at their homes. At the trial, all the three stated that they had given their testimonies at the Department for Financial Investigations (DFI) and the Investigating Committee (IC) under pressure; and therefore, later, they refused from them. On the eve, Marina Fyodorova, the Judge of the Sovietsky District Court of Minsk, instructed the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) to establish the truthfulness of the witnesses’ testimonies.

Nikolai Gerasimenko was detained at 7:30 a.m. and released after noon. Against the video recording, he has confirmed that he refused from his earlier testimonies given under pressure during his interrogations at the DFI and the IC, and that he gave his actual testimony had been read out at the court session. Besides, Nikolai Gerasimenko has stated that “all our phones are wiretapped.”

Nadezhda Esipovich and Snezhana Grintsevich were released late in the evening. All the three were strongly warned about serious consequences, if it turns out that they had told a lie.

Today, the court has interrogated Igor Komlik and several defence witnesses.

“I have the right to make use of the material (financial) assistance of the IndustriALL Global Union! No one can take away this right from me, moreover the GPO; therefore, if I had used this assistance – there’s no crime! The prosecution party is a culprit in this situation,” Igor Komlik has stated.

He told about the pressure on the members of the REP Trade Union during the investigation, and cited facts of pressure on him during his stay at the SIZO (pre-trial prison):

“There was a case, when my wife tried to pass some medical drops to me. When she came to the SIZO, they told her: ‘Let him confess, and then go home and drop whatever you want.’ I regard this as torture!”

Igor Komlik sees association of the “trade union case” with the last year’s “patriots’ case”. He suggested that after his son, Andrei Komlik, was detained within the “patriots’ case”, a version arose in special agencies that the REP Trade Union had financed Belarusian “extremists”.

Asked by the prosecutor about sponsor help, Komlik replied: “There’s no sponsor help in the trade union; you don’t understand the essence of it.”

Igor Komlik called a “fake” the excerpt from the Lithuanian SEB Bank, made with the aim “to link the trade union with a terrorist organization.”

During the court session, one of the advocates put forward a petition to question the defence witnesses: Vasily Naranovich, a neighbour of Yanina Borisevich (the mother-in-law of Gennady Fedynich) in the village of Sukhodoly, and Alexei Evgenov, a legal inspector of the REP Trade Union.

The prosecutor asked Vasily Naranovich in detail how the house of Yanina Borisevich was being built, how often the neighbour communicated with Ms Borisevich, whether Fedynich took part in the construction of the house, who paid the builders, how often Fedynich came there, etc.

Alexei Evgenov, the legal inspector of the REP Trade Union for the Mogilev Region, answered questions related to Fedynich’s conflict with Zhanna Zaprivarina, the former REP lawyer, a witness, who testified against the defendants. In particular, he explained that the conflict arose because of poor results and frequent occasions, when Ms Zaprivarina was late to work, because of which the workers who turned to the trade union failed to receive consultations in time.

To the question of an advocate, with what attitude to Mr Fedynich Ms Zaprivarina resigned, Mr Evgenov answered:

“The relations were rather strained. She also said that the union paid salaries in foreign currencies. She’s a lawyer; and she should know that the trade union never did it; I never got euros.”

Judge Marina Fyodorova read out the prosecution’s claim about the recovery from Fedynich and Komlik of compensation of financial damages in the amount of BYN 22,867.10, with account of inflation.

The defendants have rejected the claim.

“This claim can’t be legitimate, since we made no violations with respect to making profits; therefore, there was no reason to submit a declaration,” Gennady Fedynich has stated; while Igor Komlik expressed his readiness to file a counterclaim for compensation of the damage inflicted to the trade union in the amount of 100,000 euros.

The today’s events were commented on by Gennady Fedynich as follows:

“In the morning, we were informed that three men in plainclothes came to Snezhana Grintsevich in Soligorsk and wanted to take her to Minsk to the General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO). They came to Nadezhda Esipovich at 7 a.m., when she was still asleep; the district militiaman came and said: if you don’t open the door, we’ll break it. Nikolai Gerasimenko managed to say only ‘hello ….’ and the communication was broken. All these actions were caused by the yesterday’s ruling of the court, according to which the GPO should clear out the case with the witnesses who gave other evidence at the trial than at interrogations at the Department of Financial Investigations (DFI) and the Investigating Committee IC). This is another fact of pressure, of course. And it is very difficult to prove this pressure, because, unfortunately, no one knows the names of the investigators who interrogated them. Investigators came in groups of 3-4, threatened people with ‘convoy’ and ‘prison’ – it’s just horrible. In the morning, our colleagues found advocates for female witnesses – it’s easier for them to fight off this monster,” Gennady Fedynich has concluded.

Sergey Pavlov, the Chairman of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, a member-organization of the IndustriALL Global Union, has shared his impressions of the trial:

“The court session gave an impression of a contrived one. The prosecutor asked questions not related at all to the period in question – 2011-2012, but about 2016, 2017 and 2018. I don’t understand from the judicial, legal and purely human point of view: if they move claims for 2011-2012, what do the 2016-2018 events have to do with it? This morning, law enforcers, under the threat of breaking doors, enticed three witnesses out of their homes and took them away. This is a state arbitrariness. We have a rampage of democracy in Ukraine – I’m shocked by the actions of your law enforcement bodies, and the court too. This is also judicial lawlessness. The state system in a country that aspires to Europe should not work like this.”