Five out of nine Belarusian referees attested by the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) try to defend, through the court, their right to service international matches. After several fruitless attempts to get explanations from the leadership of the Belarusian Basketball Federation on why they are not appointed to referee matches. Alexander Syritsa, Dmitry Yuganyuk, Yuri Ignatiev, Ksenia Romanyuk and Evgeny Marukovich turned for help to the REP Trade Union.
On May 22, the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk held a preliminary session on the lawsuit lodged by the above FIBA referees for the protection of their honour, dignity and business reputation against Anastasia Marinina, who is the executive director and the general secretary of the Belarusian Basketball Federation.
The above international referees have been in fact removed from serving matches held under the auspices of the FIBA since October 2018. The advocate, who represented Ms Marinina at the session, stated that "all the referees are suspended from refereeing," however, she failed to present any relevant documents to the court.
However, on January 9, 2019, in answer to the request of Yuri Ignatiev, one of the referees, Ms Marinina herself replied: "The [Belarusian] Basketball Federation made no decision on excluding you from active referees of the RCR (Republic's Collegium of Referees), or on removing you from refereeing the Belarus' basketball championship. The Federation's executive committee made no such decision." So, whom to believe – Anastasia Marinina or her advocate?
"At the first court hearing, I failed to get an answer to any of the raised questions, like during all the previous nine months: the respondent is evading answers. The Federation responds to our requests that wee haven't been suspended or disqualified. But from last October to the present day, I personally received not a single appointment either from the FIBA, or from the Belarusian Basketball Federation," Mr Ignatiev has stated.
The claimants believe that Anastasia Marinina has sent letters to the Russia's VTB United League and the FIBA-Europe that the above referees were suspended. The referees' attempts to obtain information directly from international bodies failed, since, according to the established practice, the FIBA cooperates only with the Belarusian Basketball Federation, but not directly with the referees.
"I hope the court will nevertheless decide to summon Anastasia Marinina to the trial, for her not to communicate with the court via her advocate," the referee has noted.
Alexander Voiteshik, a lawyer and an activist of the REP Trade Union, helps to defend referees' interests in court:
"The FIBA referees believe that Marinina spread the information that does not correspond to reality, which denigrates their honour, dignity and business reputation, since she announced that the referees had been removed from serving matches for violation of some 'moral and ethical standards.' Marinina failed to appear at the trial, but her advocate came, but couldn't specify exactly what norms had been violated by the referees. However, we wanted to ask Ms Marinina herself, because it is completely unclear, whether she acts as an individual or as an official, representing the Belarusian Basketball Federation. The court failed to satisfy our motion – to ensure the presence of Anastasia Marinina at the trial. The next court session is scheduled for June 18. I want to believe that she will come to the trial and explain the referees on what basis they cannot participate in refereeing matches."