Valiantsin Stefanovich: "Viasna" will continue its work in all circumstances
It was reported on Saturday that the confiscation of the office of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" was scheduled for November 26. Human rights defenders stress that the news was not a surprise for the activists of the organization and they would continue their work in all circumstances.
The date of forfeiture of Viasna’s office was reported by bailiff Radzevich of Minsk Pershamaiski District Court in a written notification sent to the wife of the head of the organization Ales Bialiatski. Natallia Pinchuk received the letter on 17 November.
Viasna’s deputy chairman Valiantsin Stefanovich said in his comments to the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe that the notification was not a surprise to the employees of the organization:
"This, of course, complicates our lives. But in any case we will continue working. We were prepared for this. Indeed, it has had a long history. Since August, the court decision has been in force and was to be executed. It is all a bit strange that we were let staying here for so long, and even worked during the elections – and we were doing observation then. We have been waiting, and now there is a specific date – November 26.
Although, of course, we’re sorry, because we have worked in this office for 12 years. In fact, all Belarusian activists know our address. For us it is very important that the office is well-known, recognized, and people, if something happens, could know where to find us. But, nevertheless, we ourselves do not disappear, we will continue to work."
On November 24, 2011, Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski was sentenced by Minsk Pershamaiski District Court on false charges under Par. 2 of Art. 243 of the Criminal Code to 4 years and 6 months of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony with confiscation of property and compensation of alleged damage to the state. On January 18, 2012, the required amount collected by citizens in the campaign to raise funds for Ales Bialiatski was transferred to the account of the Department of Justice of Minsk city executive committee for Pershamaiski District Court as a compensation for the damage allegedly caused by the convict. These funds were paid in order to secure the release of the political prisoner, or change of the preventive measure used against him and mitigate the extremely harsh sentence. On January 24, 2012, Minsk City Court dismissed the human rights defender’s appeal and upheld the verdict of the court of first instance. On September 20, 2012, the Supreme Court dismissed Ales Bialiatski’s supervisory appeal. Later the same month, a complaint on behalf of the Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski was registered in the UN Human Rights Committee.