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Resolution adopted without a vote by the IPU Council
at its 170th session (Marrakech, 23 March 2002)

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Andrei Klimov, Mr. Victor Gonchar and Mr. Valery Shchukin, all members of the former Thirteenth Supreme Soviet of Belarus, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/170/13.c(ii)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 169th session (September 2001),

Taking into account the information provided by the Belarus delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 107th Conference (March 2002),

Taking into account also information provided by one of the sources on 1 October 2001 and 11 February 2002,

Considering the following information on file with respect to the case of Mr. Gonchar, who disappeared on 16 September 1999 together with his friend Mr. Krasovsky:

  • According to the Belarus delegation to the 107th Conference (March 2002), the investigation into Mr. Gonchar's disappearance is under the personal control of the Head of the State, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Prosecutor General; moreover, Parliament is closely monitoring the investigation and receiving monthly briefings from the Prosecutor General or other competent authorities; Parliament also has access to investigation documents, and MPs can personally contact the competent authorities and request information; however, efforts by Parliament to set up a special parliamentary monitoring committee have not been pursued because, in discussions with the Prosecutor General and the Minister of Home Affairs, the conclusion was reached that it would be more effective to have Parliament as a whole monitor the investigation; the delegation also reported that a criminal murder case concerning Mr. Gonchar's disappearance had been opened, thus enabling the authorities to use the entire range of investigative means and procedures; however, all those efforts have not as yet made it possible to establish whether Mr. Gonchar is dead or alive and to elucidate the circumstances of his disappearance;

  • According to the source, new evidence has come to light since mid-2001, implicating in the assassination of opposition figures, including Mr. Gonchar, State?run death squads said to have been originally set up by the former Minister of the Interior and the former Secretary of the National Security Council to fight Mafia crime; according to that evidence, Mr. Gonchar was shot by members of a special security unit with a gun allegedly used solely for capital executions; the weapon was reportedly issued by the Minsk Confinement Centre on the personal orders of the former Minister of the Interior; the authorities have stressed that all these allegations, having been thoroughly checked, were dismissed as baseless; according to them, the reports were only given broad coverage during the presidential election campaign;

  • On several occasions, the authorities have stated that there are many cases of disappearance each year in Belarus; in this respect, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Issues reported at the hearing held on the occasion of the Committee's 96th session (January 2002), that investigations into disappearances were under the personal control of President Lukashenko, who, in a meeting with Parliament on the subject, had stated that Mr. Gonchar's case was one among the 2,000 cases of disappearance each year and urged that investigations should not focus solely on him,

Recalling, with regard to the case of Mr. Klimov, who is serving the six-year prison term to which he was sentenced in March 2000, the serious misgivings it has consistently expressed about respect for his right to fair trial, in particular his right effectively to defend himself and present evidence to clear himself of the charges, and about the harshness of the sentence handed down on him, which it has considered grossly disproportionate to the alleged offence; recalling also that it has consistently called on the authorities to release Mr. Klimov forthwith and that it was therefore all the more dismayed when he was not included in the Amnesty Law of August 2000; considering in this respect the following information provided by the Belarus delegation to the 107th Conference:

  • On 28 February 2002, the prison authorities wrote to Minsk City Court requesting Mr. Klimov's release for good conduct; the court now has to take a decision within one month, so that Mr. Klimov could be released on parole at the end of March 2002, meaning that for the remainder of his sentence, namely one year and 11 months, he would have to report to the police periodically; however, should Mr. Klimov be included in the new amnesty law to be adopted by Parliament in April 2002, he would cease to be under that obligation,

Recalling the following information on file regarding the case of Mr. Shchukin, who has on many occasions been arrested, detained or fined for participating in unauthorised demonstrations and for "hooliganism" and claims to have been ill-treated by the police on various occasions without the police ever acting upon his complaints:

  • Mr. Shchukin was most recently sentenced to a three-month prison term in March 2001 for attempting to attend a press conference without the necessary accreditation; he served the sentence from 12 June to 12 September 2001;

  • In January 2002, the authorities confirmed that he had been released and reported that Mr. Shchukin was now permanently accredited, as part-time political observer of the "Narodnaya Volya" (People's Will) newspaper, with the House of Representatives and regularly invited to its press conferences and briefings,

  1. Thanks the Belarus delegation and the parliamentary authorities for the information provided and for their consistent cooperation;

  2. Remains deeply concerned that, more than two years after Mr. Gonchar's disappearance, the investigations have led nowhere; declares that the disappearance of a prominent opposition politician and member of Parliament cannot be put on a par with the 2,000 cases of missing persons observed annually in Belarus and requires special measures to establish the truth; appreciates therefore the special investigative efforts made to this end, in particular Parliament's continuing monitoring of this case; believes, however, that setting up a special committee, as was Parliament's intention, would contribute considerably to such effort; calls therefore on the House of Representatives to reconsider that decision;

  3. Would appreciate information on the details provided by the investigative authorities at their latest hearing with Parliament about the results of their work in this case, as published in the official parliamentary records;

  4. Is pleased at the prospect of Mr. Klimov's release on parole at the end of March 2002 and is confident that the court will grant such release; earnestly hopes that Mr. Klimov will be included in the new Amnesty Law and so recover his full freedom;

  5. Notes that Mr. Shchukin was released on 12 September 2001; is pleased to note that he is pursuing his activity as a journalist, having in addition been accredited with Parliament; decides consequently to close his case while regretting that he was subjected to repeated arrest and administrative fines, largely on account of having exercised his right to freedom of speech and association;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities and to the sources;

  7. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining the case of Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Klimov and report to it at its next session (September 2002).

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