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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 181st session
(Geneva, 10 October 2007)

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 at the time of the submission of the communication, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/181/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 180th session (May 2007),

Taking account of thehearing the Committee held during the 117th Assembly (October 2007) with Mr. N. Cherginets, Chairman of the Standing Committee on International Affairs and National Security of the Council of the Republic, National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, and of his letter of 17 September 2007,

Recalling the following information:

  • Mr. Victor Gonchar, a major political opponent of the President of Belarus, Mr. Lukashenko, disappeared together with his friend Mr. Krasovksy on 16 September 1999 after leaving a sauna in Minsk; investigations into their disappearance have been unavailing to date;

  • in April 2004, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted Resolution 1371 (2004) and Recommendation 1657 (2004) based on the report on "Disappeared persons in Belarus", prepared by its Special Rapporteur on disappearances for allegedly political reasons in Belarus, Mr. C. Pourgourides, which presents the investigatory work carried out by him and an ad hoc subcommittee to clarify the fate of four well-known persons who disappeared in Minsk in 1999 and 2000, including Mr. Gonchar and his friend Mr. Krasovsky; the authorities have strongly refuted the report and its conclusions that the Assembly had been led 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"; in October 2006, Mr. Cherginets conveyed to the Committee a Memorandum ("Comments and information") from the Prosecutor General's office on that report,
Recalling that Mr. Pourgourides gathered evidence, including a handwritten document from the then Police Chief, General Lapatik, whose authenticity the Belarusian authorities have acknowledged, in which he accuses Mr. V. Sheyman, then Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council, to have ordered the killing of Mr. Zakharenko, a former Minister of the Interior, and that the order was carried out by a special task force (SOBR unit) under the command of Colonel Pavlichenko with the assistance of the then Minister of the Interior, Mr. Sivakov, who provided Colonel Pavlichenko with the official execution pistol temporarily removed from SIZO-1 prison, and that the same method was used in the execution of Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky,

Recalling further that, according to the information provided by Mr. Cherginets in previous meetings with the Committee, none of the possible reasons - political, economic or personal - for the disappearance had been ruled out so far and that, although Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky had clearly been abducted, it was unclear whether the target had been Mr. Gonchar or Mr. Krasovsky, as the latter had business-related problems and his wife, now living in the United States, had refused to appear for the investigation; considering that Mrs. Krasovskaya has strongly refuted this allegation and affirms that she neither refused to cooperate with the prosecution, having actually given testimony to the former prosecutor in the case, nor was aware of any business-related problems experienced by her husband, who had financially supported opposition groups in Belarus,

Noting that, at the hearing held during the 117th Assembly, Mr. Cherginets insisted on economic motives which might be behind the disappearance, in particular debts which Mr. Krasovsky's company had allegedly accumulated; he strongly refuted once again the conclusions of the PACE report, adding that the Council of Europe had dismissed Mr. Pourgourides as Special Rapporteur, which information, upon verification with PACE, turned out to be wrong,

Considering that, according to Mr. Cherginets's letter of 17 September 2007, the Council of the Republic had regular correspondence and working meetings, most recently on 15 June and 3 September 2007, with the competent authorities; members of the Belarus National IPU Group, representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office, of the Ministry of the Interior, of the State Security Service, and of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Justice participated in such working meetings and IPU reports on this case were shared with them for their consideration,

  1. Thanks Mr. Cherginets for his consistent cooperation and appreciates his commitment to making every effort to ensure that full light is shed on Mr. Gonchar's disappearance;

  2. Notes that, in its Memorandum on the Pourgourides report, the Prosecutor General's Office does not comment on the following essential questions raised in the report, and that no other information has been provided in this regard:
    • The fact that the official execution pistol was twice signed out in the name of the then Minister of the Interior, Mr. Sivakov, and that the timing coincides with the disappearances of Mr. Gonchar, Mr. Krasovsky and Mr. Zakharenko; that Mr. Sivakov gave an explanation for only the first signing-out, namely for purposes of conducting a comparative study of death penalty execution methods in different European countries (when no European country was practising the death penalty) and provided none for the second signing-out, apart from "coincidence";
    • The fact that no comparison was apparently made of the red paint found at the crime scene with that of the red car driven by the suspect named by the then Police Chief, General Lapatik, that is, Colonel Pavlichenko;
    • The fact that Colonel Pavlichenko was arrested on the strength of a warrant signed by the then KGB Chief, Mr. Matskevitch, and sanctioned by the then Prosecutor General Bozhelko, for preventive detention of 30 days "taking into consideration that D.V. Pavlichenko and his criminal group may commit further crimes of particular violence", but freed shortly after his arrest;
    • The fact that KGB Chief Matskevitch, Prosecutor Bozhelko and Police Chief Lapatik were dismissed from their posts or retired at or around the time when General Lapatik levelled accusations at Mr. Sheyman and Mr. Sivakov and when KGB Chief and Prosecutor General Bozhelko ordered the arrest of Colonel Pavlichenko;
    • The fact that Mr. Sheyman was appointed Prosecutor General and thereby placed in charge of investigating accusations made by Police Chief Lapatik against him and that he was only removed from that post in November 2004;
  3. Notes further that, at the hearing, Mr. Cherginets insisted that every allegation made in Mr. Pourgourides's report had been fully checked and investigated; invites him and the competent Belarusian authorities therefore to provide Mr. Pourgourides with the results of the expert analysis carried out, including the ballistics report and the result of the comparison of the red paint found at the crime scene with that of Mr. Pavlichenko's car;

  4. Is pleased that the Belarusian parliament is closely following the investigation in this case and sharing the Committee's reports with the competent investigative authorities; therfore looks forward to receiving their comments on the points raised above;

  5. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 118th Assembly of the IPU (Cape Town, April 2008).
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