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Resolution adopted by the Governing Council
at its 176th session (Manila, 8th April 2005) *

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Victor Gonchar, a member of the Thirteenth Supreme Soviet of Belarus, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/176/13(b)‑R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 175th session (October 2004),

Taking account of a letter from the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Judicial and Legal Issues of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, dated 19 January 2005,

Recalling that Mr. Victor Gonchar, then Deputy Speaker of the 13th Supreme Soviet and a major opponent of President Lukashenko, disappeared on 16 September 1999 together with his friend Anatoly Krasovsky, and that their whereabouts have not been determined todate,

Recalling that in January 2004 the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) published a report drawn up by the rapporteur it had appointed to investigate the issue of disappearances for allegedly political reasons in Belarus concerning the disappearance of, in addition to Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky, Mr. Yuri Zakharenko, a former Minister of the Interior (disappeared in May 1999), and Mr. Dmitri Zvadski, a cameraman for the Russian TV channel ORT (disappeared in July 2000), and that the PACE Committeeand subsequently PACE itself endorsed the rapporteur’s conclusions that "a proper investigation of the disappearances has not been carried out by the competent Belarusian authorities", and that the information gathered led him "to believe that steps were taken at the highest level of the State actively to cover up the true background of the disappearances, and to suspect that senior state officials may themselves be involved in these disappearances",

Recalling that the report casts doubt in particular on the role of Mr. Victor Sheyman, at the time of the disappearance Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council and then Prosecutor General, who according to the report had been accused by the then Chief of the Criminal Police of Belarus, in a handwritten note of 21 November 2000 addressed to the Minister of the Interior, of having ordered Mr. Zakharenko’s physical elimination, that the order was allegedly carried out by Mr. Dmitry Vasilyevich Pavlichenko, a colonel belonging to the specialforces of the Ministry of the Interior (SOBR unit), with the assistance of the then Minister of the Interior, and that Mr. Pavlichenko was arrested by the Committee on State Security (KGB) on 22 November 2000 under an accusation of "being the organiser and head of a criminal body engaged in the abduction and physical elimination of people"; and noting in this respect that, according to the PACE report, Colonel Pavlichenko was released after a few days although the Prosecutor General had ordered 30 days’ pre-trial detention, and that the KGB Chairman and the Prosecutor General who had ordered and authorised his arrest were both dismissed on 27 November 2000,

Recalling that, given the serious doubts the PACE report cast on the role Mr. Victor Sheyman may have played in those disappearances, it has considered, along with PACE, that he should be removed from the investigation into these disappearances; considering that, according to information provided by the Chairman of the Committee on Judicial and Legal Issues in January 2005, Mr. Sheyman has indeed been removed from this post and promoted to that of Chief of Presidential Administration to President Lukashenko,

Considering that relatives of the disappeared, including of Mr. Gonchar, on the basis of the findings and conclusions of the PACE report, petitioned the Chairman of the KGB to press criminal charges against certain state officials mentioned in the report and against Colonel Pavlichenko; that the current KGB Chairman has reportedly taken no action so far; that in a meeting held on 19 October 2004 with opposition politicians he nevertheless reportedly announced that he would in due course publish information on the fate of the disappeared; and that the following day he was reportedly obliged to take vacation,

Recalling that the parliamentary authorities have asserted that the PACE report was based on mere allegations and dismissed it; noting further that President Lukashenko reportedly reacted to the report only in July 2004, having been quoted assaying that he did not even want to see or know about it,

  1. Thanks the President of the Standing Committee on Judicial and Legal Affairs of the House of Representatives for his letter;

  2. Notes that Mr. Victor Sheyman has been removed from the post of Prosecutor General;  expresses deep concern, however, at the absence of any indication that the authorities have heeded the evidence contained in the PACE report; and points out in this respect that the authorities have not put forward any evidence in support of their assertion that the report is based on mere allegations that are to be dismissed;

  3. Is therefore obliged to reiterate that, so long as the Belarusian authorities do not fully investigate the evidence revealed in the PACE report, the suspicion as to the role the state officials mentioned in the report may have played in the disappearance of the persons concerned will remain fully justified;

  4. Wishes to ascertain whether the KGB has meanwhile acted upon the petition which the relatives of the disappeared lodged last year, since it appears to have gathered important evidence in these cases, especially as regards the role played by Colonel Pavlichenko; and wishes to be informed in this respect of the grounds for his rapid release in November 2000;

  5. Recalls that the parliamentary authorities have always stated that they were as anxious as the IPU to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Gonchar; therefore once again calls on the parliament to assume its oversight function for this purpose and to ensure that the investigative authorities can work with the independence they require to elucidate the disappearance of one of its former members; is convinced that the PACE report can be of great assistance in holding the competent investigative and judicial authorities to account, and thus inshedding light on the disappearances; and would appreciate receiving  any information about any measures taken to this effect;

  6. Requeststhe Secretary General to convey this resolution to the authorities, to the sources and to competent regional organisations;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 113th IPU Assembly (October 2005).

* The Belarusian delegation took the floor to reject the resolution.


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