News / 07.08.18

REP News Special Issue, August 2, "trade union case" – Day 4

The reports from the trial in Minsk are made on the daily basis by special correspondents of the and the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Viasna", then edited and translated for initial publication at: See the footage of Day 4 of the trial.

"Trade union case": Day 4. How can REP Trade Union threaten a DFI employee?

On August 2, the Sovietsky District Court of Minsk continued questioning witnesses and studying materials of the criminal "trade union case".

Today, the court has presented the key testimonies, virtually given by Sergey V. Dmitriev, an employee of the Department of Financial Investigations (DFI) of the State Control Committee (known as the KGK). It was he who directed the search, conducted by 20 special service agents on August 2, 2017, in the central office of the REP Trade Union.

Sergey Dmitriev petitioned about his interrogation not visually, but virtually, that is, without appearing in courtroom, but through technical communication means. Judge Marina Fyodorova denied the petition put forward by Gennady Fedynich, who demanded a personal interrogation of Dmitriev. Therefore, he testified to the court by the Skype – on what grounds, it remained unclear: witnesses are provided with additional security measures, if there is a threat to their health or life (or to those of their family members). What threatened the DFI employee remained unknown.

Sergey Dmitriev has claimed that in 2011 Fedynich and Komlik opened an account at the SEB Bank (Lithuania), to which they received 140,000 euros and 17,000 US dollars. According to Dmitriev, the money was cashed, transported by different persons by 5000 euros and handed over to Fedynich and Komlik. The DFI employee claims that the money was imported allegedly for trade union activities, but in fact they were used for personal purposes.

Dmitriev has counted that in 2011-2017, Fedynich crossed the Belarusian border for more than 160 times.

The case files contain a copy of the excerpt from the bank, but Sergey Dmitriev was not able to say which requisites of the REP Trade Union are indicated in the copy, did not explain how the excerpt from the bank was obtained.

All the information was found during searches; and the correspondence was taken from e-mail, Dmitriev said. The information about the e-mailbox was obtained as a result of operative-and-search activity, and some of the letters were extracted from the computer of Igor Komlik, who supposedly used this e-box. However, the case materials clearly state that the access point for incoming and outgoing mail of this box has not been established; it was encrypted. Who owns the e-mail – investigators failed to establish.

"Doubts about reliability arose constantly"

"Advocates tried to find out as a result of what operative-and-search activities, how they are called, and how the bank statement was obtained. To which the answer was received, that these data are not subject to announcement. They just received it – and full stop. The most interesting question is how it had become known that the accounts were opened by Fedynich and Komlik?" asked Mikhail Pastukhov, the former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Belarus.

"To what extent the evidence presented by the DFI employee is convincing?"

"Doubts about reliability arose constantly. In a number of cases, Dmitriev said that these were operative materials; and he could not announce them; and the judge rejected advocates' questions. The defence asked to show the bank excerpt, which was also rejected. After talking through the Skype with Dmitriev, Fedynich at the end of the conversation asked: 'Who is standing close to you? I hear that someone is standing nearby and prompting.' To which the answer was: no one," said Mikhail Pastukhov. "The defendants and their advocates are extremely dissatisfied with the fact that the court had refused to interrogate the DFI employee in person and actually sheltered him away from a detailed questioning. The main question of the day remained unanswered: how had the bank excerpt appeared in the case files, and how does it look like?"

"The situation with the e-mail that had been allegedly partially used by Igor Komlik looks very contradictory and confusing."

"There remain the questions not only of reliability, but also of admissibility of evidence. Not all the questions were answered: the DFI employee his behind secrecy. As to the admissibility of evidence, the DFI employee had no legal grounds not to appear in court as a witness. Evidently, there were no threats, he could calmly appear in court and be questioned, same as other witnesses," Mikhail Pastukhov has summed up.

"We are ready to go through a lie detector (polygraph). Together with Dmitriev"

Gennady Fedynich was indignant at the remote questioning of the DFI employee:

"What threat there can be to the DFI employee from the REP Trade Union? The Investigating Committee has put you on the list of witnesses; it doesn't matter whether you are a turner or engaged in operative-and-search activities – the law does not allow you not to come to court. Unless, of course, there is a threat to the health or life of you or your family members. Perhaps, the DFI employee didn't want to go to court because he confused his testimonies; for example, he said that Komlik used the mailbox they found; but and the materials of the criminal case state quite the different. He is sure that my mother-in-law's dacha belongs to Fedynich; he, allegedly, was there and saw it."

"Dmitriev has doubted the witnesses' refusals from their initial testimonies, and suggested that they pass a lie detector test. So let's go through it together, why haven't you come to court? I asked Dmitriev a simple question: what is the correct name of our trade union? Unfortunately, he couldn't answer."

Observers: talks about weather and visit to a dentist – are they evidence?

Nazar Djanaliev, a member of the Central Committee of the Mining and Metallurgical Trade Union of the Kyrgyz Republic, who was present at the court as an observer from the IndustriALL Global Union, believes that the defendants are under pressure:

"The main witness refused to act visually; he preferred to use technical means; he found it difficult to answer questions and referred to the secrecy of investigation; he failed to answer specific questions during the court session. We believe that the case has been fabricated; and there is direct pressure on the defendants. We also believe that the aim of this criminal prosecution is to put the union on its knees and to blacken its leaders," Nazar Djanaliev stressed.

Vasil Zavadsky, the executive director of the socio-information institution "TimeAkt", is surprised by the "evidence" that the investigation and prosecution present at the trial:

"The figurants of the 'trade union case' are charged with non-payment of taxes for 2011. But so far, all that I've heard concerns some mythical transportation of money during later years. But even if these transportations of money had been really performed, in themselves, they are completely legal. We see that witnesses reject their testimonies given under psychological pressure at the stage of preliminary investigation. Yesterday we generally heard records of wiretapping of telephone conversations, which investigators had included into the case files, apparently as evidence: talks about the weather, and visiting a dentist. I'm just surprised. In what has been announced, I couldn't see any violations even of the administrative legislation, not to mention the criminal liability."

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