20.11.2012 / 17:59

Human Rights Group Viasna Forced to Leave Office by November 27

A human rights organization called Viasna (Spring) is to vacate its office in Minsk by November 27.

In November 2011, Viasna Chairman Alies Bialiacki was sentenced to not only prison but also the confiscation of property, including the apartment that houses the office, his associate, Tacciana Raviaka told.

The organization has used the apartment as its office for nearly 12 years, she noted.

In January 2010, a panel of the Minsk City Court upheld the sentence, Raviaka said. After half a year of obscure legal procedures, ownership of the apartment was formally transferred to the state. This meant that we could be evicted any day.

On November 16, Bialiacki's wife received a letter from the Pershamayski District Court saying that the apartment would be confiscated on November 26.

According to Raviaka, Viasna currently looks for a new office, while its members work at home. I don't want to give any details now, she said. However, as soon as we have certainty, we'll hold a special event to show the office to the public.

Raviaka said that the imprisonment of Bialiacki was a much greater concern for Viasna than eviction from its office.

Alies Bialiacki, who is vice president of the International Federation for Human Rights, was arrested in Minsk on August 4, 2011.

On November 24, 2011, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on a charge of large-scale tax evasion. The charge stemmed from information about his bank accounts abroad, which was provided by authorities in Lithuania and Poland under interstate legal assistance agreements. During his trial, Bialiacki insisted that the money transferred by various foundations to his bank accounts abroad had been intended to finance Viasna's activities and therefore could not be viewed as his income subject to taxation.

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