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Belarus dispatch: activist accused of tax evasion faces extradition from Serbia to Belarus

by Derek Andrews
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Belarusian regulation college students enrolled at European Humanities College are submitting stories with JURIST on present circumstances in Belarus underneath the constitutionally-disputed presidency of Alexander Lukashenka. Katsiaryna Vasilionak information this dispatch from Vilnius, Lithuania.

Andrey Gnyot was arrested on October 30, 2023, by the border service of the Republic of Serbia upon arrival within the nation. He had been accused in Belarus of tax evasion. On the identical day, a courtroom determined to ship him to a jail in Belgrade.

The rationale for Gnyot’s detention was his presence on a global needed listing on the request of the Nationwide Central Bureau of INTERPOL by the Republic of Belarus dated September 21, 2023. This request was primarily based on prison prosecution in Belarus, with the goal of extradition for additional prison prosecution within the territory of the Republic of Belarus. Gnyot’s attorneys insist that this can be a case of political persecution and right here’s the rationale: he’s a tv industrial and music video director, journalist, political activist, and one of many founders of the Free Athletes Affiliation SOS BY. The Free Athletes Affiliation of Belarus is a company the place athletes actually categorical their positions relating to occasions which have taken place in Belarus because the presidential elections in 2020. This initiative was based after the presidential elections in Belarus in 2020. It was later declared by the State Management Committee to be an “extremist formation”.

At the least 5 public figures of this group have already been prosecuted for his or her involvement in it. For instance: Alexandra Herasimenya – an Olympic champion, going through prison prosecution underneath Half 3 of Article 361 of the Legal Code of the Republic of Belarus (calling for measures of a restrictive nature (sanctions) and different actions aimed toward these inflicting hurt to the nationwide safety of the Republic of Belarus). The beginning date of the particular proceedings is September 29, 2022.

Initially, Gnyot didn’t publicly declare his involvement on this group, however in latest testimonies within the Appeals Courtroom of Belgrade, he admitted for the primary time that he is among the three founders of this group: “I created the emblem, launched the Instagram web page, and am the ideological chief of the group”, he mentioned.

One of the vital achievements of SOS BY is that the affiliation managed to affect the cancellation of the Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus and the suspension of funding for the Nationwide Olympic Committee of Belarus, which till February 2021 was headed by Alexander Lukashenko.

In June 2021, Gnyot discovered that the authorities had develop into conscious of his involvement in opposition actions, and he determined to go away Belarus. He didn’t know that a global warrant had been issued in opposition to him, and in October of final 12 months, he flew to Serbia for work.

It’s price noting that in Belarus Gnyot is accused of tax evasion within the quantity of roughly 300,000 euros.

In line with his attorneys, the Legal Code of the Republic of Belarus shouldn’t be utilized to him. Gnyot is accused of an act that he allegedly dedicated in the course of the interval from 2012 to 2018, whereas the regulation underneath which he’s being prosecuted got here into drive solely in 2019. The retroactive drive of the regulation is prohibited in Belarus by article 104 of the Structure: “The regulation has no retroactive impact, besides in circumstances when it mitigates or cancels the duty of residents”.

Subsequently, there are substantial grounds to argue that the Lukashenko regime is utilizing Article 243 of the Legal Code (tax evasion) to fight political dissidents bypassing Article 3 of the Interpol Structure. This text states: “Organizations are strictly prohibited from participating in any intervention or exercise of a political, army, spiritual, or racial character”.

Based mostly on the above, in addition to the statement of BELPOL (Union of Belarusian Regulation Enforcement Officers, who sided with the folks of the nation in 2020), there are severe causes to imagine that Andrey Gnyot is being persecuted by the Lukashenko regime, which illegally holds energy within the Republic of Belarus for political causes.

This political persecutory strategy to Belarusian residents disloyal to the regime is carried out with the involvement of worldwide mechanisms, together with INTERPOL, via falsification of information in requests for worldwide authorized help, to be able to circumvent the necessities established in Article 3 of the INTERPOL Structure.

The choice of the Appeals Courtroom in Serbia on Gnyot’s matter is anticipated inside 20-30 days.

Opinions expressed in JURIST Dispatches are solely these of our correspondents within the discipline and don’t essentially replicate the views of JURIST’s editors, employees, donors or the College of Pittsburgh.
Source / Picture: jurist.org

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