News / 24.09.19

Two years later, investigators return equipment to figurants of "trade union case"

"After an open letter appeared in the media addressed to Natalia Kochanova, the head of the Presidential Administration, in which the interpreter and REP activist, Leonid Schukin, explained the situation with our seized equipment, they called from the Minsk City Department of the Investigating Committee and said that we could take our phones and computers back," Gennady Fedynich, the trade union leader, told the website.

Let us remind you that in August 2018, the Sovietsky District Court of Minsk sentenced Gennady Fedynich and Igor Komlik, the leaders of the REP Trade Union, to four years of freedom restriction with a ban on holding leadership positions for five years.

They were found guilty under Part 2, Article 243, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (large-scale tax evasion).

The criminal case closed, however, investigators were not in a hurry to return the huge amount of equipment seized "for inspection" during the searches conducted in August 2017.

"The equipment is still at the Minsk City Department of the Investigating Committee," says Gennady Fedynich. "We made several inquiries about this, but nothing helped, although all the trials were over long ago; and all decisions were passed. Almost a year passed after the trial."

The union leader says the figurants of the "trade union affairs" received calls on September 13, and were informed that they could finally take the seized equipment back.

"In 2011, computers were already seized from us; and when we finally got them back, we didn't check them on the spot," Gennady Fedynich continued. "But when back at the office, it turned out that they had burned hard drives, damaged optical drives, and made our flash memory sticks inoperative Therefore, I now warned the investigator that we would check all the equipment on the spot before taking it back; however, there were no objections, he said: 'This is your right'."

Gennady Fedynich believes that the return of equipment is a reaction to the open letter Leonid Schukin, a professional translator and a shop steward of the REP Trade Union, who figures as a witness in our criminal, sent to the head of the Presidential Administration, Natalia Kochanova.

"All the computer equipment was taken away from Schukin – his mobile phone and three computers, including his wife's one," Gennady continued. "But the case files contain the conclusion of the Investigating Committee's experts that they hadn't find any materials that were of interest to law enforcers in his equipment. And there was a response from the Supreme Court that, within the framework of the 'trade union case', the property seized from Schukin was not recognized as material evidence. I don't know if this was a coincidence, but immediately after the publication of the open letter, they decided to return all the seized equipment. But, I repeat, we'll go there with experts to check all the computers for their serviceability. In total, about 15 computers should be returned to our office."

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