On July 8, Minsk hosted the 18th Congress of the United Civil Party (UCP) of Belarus, which also raised the issue of the prosecution of the REP Trade Union.
Leonid Sudalenko, the REP's legal inspector for the Gomel Region, who is also a member of the UCP's national committee and chairman of the commission on legal issues and human rights, handed over to the praca-by.info the text of the statement; adopted by the congress and saying, in particular:
The full text of the statement:
"…Under far-fetched charges of tax evasion put forward against the leaders of the REP Trade Union Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik, a criminal case was opened and is now at the court. Earlier, a similar practice was used against the "Viasna" Human Rights Centre and its leader Ales Bialiatski. In this context, the UCP declares that the criminal case against REP leaders has a customized political nature and aims to paralyze the work of the REP Trade Union, which is most active in defending Belarusians' socio-economic rights, and in rendering real help to those, whose rights were violated."
"The arbitrary use of criminal legislation to suppress political opponents is unacceptable and returns Belarus back into the era of totalitarianism. Civil society institutions should be supported in every possible way by the state, and not destroyed for their independent and principled position. Without a strong civil society, no social progress is possible."
"The criminal case against Fedynich and Komlik should be stopped; and their rights restored in full. Those guilty of illegal actions against the REP leaders should be held accountable."
Leonid Sudalenko has commented on the UCP's statement:
"Today, our trade union is in dire need of solidarity support. We thank the UCP for its clear public position. Only together, the civil society can force the authorities to change their minds and stop the political persecution of our trade union!"
Andrei Strizhak, Deputy Chairman of the Gomel branch of the REP:
"Usually, right-wing parties, like the UCP, refrain from supporting free trade unions; however, today in Belarus, authorities are equally pressing political parties and trade unions, irrespective of their ideologies. We are all in the same boat. Thanks to the UCP congress for its support!"