CASE N° BLS/05 - Victor Gonchar
CASE N° BLS/01 - Andrei Klimov
CASE N° BLS/02 - Vladimir Koudinov
CASE N° BLS/10 - Valery Shchukin

Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 166th session (Amman, 6 May 2000)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Victor Gonchar, Mr. Andrei Klimov, Mr. Vladimir Koudinov and Mr. Valery Shchukin, all members of the Thirteenth Supreme Soviet of Belarus elected in 1995, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/166/16(c)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 165th session (October 1999),

Taking note of the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/166/16(c)-R.2) on its mission to Belarus conducted from 19 to 24 November 1999,

Noting that, in addition to this case, the Committee is also investigating complaints regarding the following members of the Thirteenth Supreme Soviet elected in 1995: Mr. Bogdankevich, Mr. Lebedko, Mr. Gryb, Mr. Sharetsky, Mr. Dobrovolsky, Mr. Domash, Mr. Znavets and Ms. Gryaznova, and that the Committee also requested its delegation to gather information regarding them, which is consequently contained in the mission report,

Taking account of the written observations of the authorities and the information provided by the Deputy Minister of the Interior at the hearing held on the occasion of the 103rd Conference; further taking account of the written observations of the sources and several of the former MPs concerned,

Considering the following new developments that have occurred since the return of the mission:

  • On 8 and 9 December 1999, the judge in Mr. Klimov's trial reportedly refused to allow the defence to bring forward key witnesses to testify; Mr. Klimov was reportedly ejected from the courtroom after questioning the court's independence and objectivity; on 13 December 1999, he refused to leave his prison cell to go to court, protesting that he was not receiving a fair trial; as a result, Mr. Klimov was reportedly beaten and kicked by prison officials and dragged into Lenin District Court in torn clothes and without shoes; an ambulance was called to the court, but the judge reportedly refused to allow him to be taken to hospital; it was later reportedly determined that Mr. Klimov had suffered significant bruising, a possible fractured or dislocated arm and concussion as a result of the ill-treatment; he was later admitted to hospital and discharged after 32 days with the following diagnosis: bruised ribcage, traces of neural infection of the brain, ischaemic heart disease and incipient diabetes; according to the authorities, the investigations into these allegations have not yielded any evidence to substantiate the alleged ill-treatment;
  • On 17 March 2000, Lenin District Court acquitted Mr. Klimov on two counts (commercial activity without licence and fraudulent obtaining of a loan) but found him guilty of overestimating construction works and sentenced him to 6 years' imprisonment in a strict-regime corrective labour colony with confiscation of his property;
  • On 27 March 2000, Mr. Shchukin was sentenced by Vitebsk court to 10 days' police detention for a public order violation committed during a demonstration on 25 March 2000;
  • Former Prime Minister Chigir, to whom reference is made in the mission report, was released on 26 November 1999 but investigations against him are being pursued;

Considering that, according to the authorities, a new Penal Code reducing sentences for bribery to a maximum of five years will enter into force on 1 July 2000 and that the Prosecutor General, the Supreme Court and the Vice-Minister of the Interior are in favour of releasing Mr. Koudinov on that occasion, given that he is not socially dangerous and has already spent sufficient time in prison; considering also that the Vice-Minister of the Interior stated at the hearing that the Government had suggested that the Penal Code should enter into force only next year; however, Parliament was determined to promulgate it as scheduled on 1 July 2000,

Considering that a new Electoral Code was adopted on 15 February 2000 which the OSCE considers to “fall short of OSCE commitments”, stating inter alia that it “excessively regulates campaign activities to such a degree that it stifles robust and vigorous campaigning and limits the right to free speech and expression”, which is “contrary to democratic principles and the freedom of expression article of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”; considering, however, that the Code no longer bars persons found guilty on an administrative charge from standing for election,

  1. Thanks the authorities, and in particular Parliament, for the cooperation they extended to its mission and the efforts made to facilitate its work; also thanks the Belarusian delegation to the 103rd Conference for the information and observations provided;
  2. Commends the mission on its work and report, and fully endorses its findings and recommendations;
  3. Considers that the information contained in the mission report and its findings tend to reveal a pattern of a greater or lesser degree of harassment of members of the 13th Supreme Soviet who are opposed to President Lukashenko; deplores this and urges the authorities to refrain from such practices, which impede the proper functioning of parliamentary democracy based on respect for human rights, in particular the right to life and to security, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and fair trial;
  4. Is pleased to observe that administrative sentences no longer constitute an impediment to standing for election; nevertheless notes with concern the assessment made by the OSCE on the guarantees offered regarding exercise of the right to freedom of speech;
  5. Notes with great satisfaction the intention of the authorities to release Mr. Koudinov on the occasion of the entry into force of the new Penal Code on 1 July 2000;
  6. Expresses deep concern at the lack of findings in the investigation into Mr. Gonchar's disappearance, and urges the authorities to make every effort, as is their duty, to establish his whereabouts; also urges the authorities duly to investigate Mrs. Gonchar's complaint of threats and harassment for the purpose of identifying the culprits and to take the necessary measures to prevent any such harassment in the future;
  7. Notes that Mr. Klimov has been found guilty of overestimating construction works; expresses deep concern at the many procedural flaws referred to in the mission report and the observations of the sources, in particular as regards the right to defence; considers the sentence handed down on Mr. Klimov to be grossly disproportionate to his alleged offence; notes that Mr. Klimov has lodged an appeal, and trusts that the appeal court will rule in accordance with the law, including the provisions of the Convenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a party;
  8. Requests a copy of the judgement;
  9. Is alarmed at the serious allegation of ill-treatment of Mr. Klimov, backed by eyewitness reports, and the diagnosis established by the prison hospital showing Mr. Klimov's state of health to have considerably worsened in detention, and urges the authorities to release him forthwith pending appeal;
  10. Calls on the authorities to comply with the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and draws their attention in particular to those regarding the right to freedom of assembly, observance of which is crucial for the holding of free and fair elections;
  11. Requests the Secretary General to communicate this decision to the authorities and sources;
  12. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (October 2000); also requests it to continue examining the other cases referred to in the mission report, and to report to it should it see fit in the light of how they progress.

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