Ales Bialiatski Responds to the Charges against Him

The Public Prosecutor has read the charges. According to him, Bialiatski violated the Tax Code and failed to pay taxes in the amount of 352,274,000 rubles, causing particularly large losses for the state. The Public Prosecutor named account numbers at Nordbank, in Lithuania, and Bank Śląski, in Poland.

Questioning of Ales Bialiatski has started. Judge Bondarenko explained that Ales has the right not to testify. Nevertheless, the human rights defender agreed to testify. “I do not believe that I am guilty, so I don’t really have anything to say,” he stated. “These were not my personal funds. They were intended to be used for human rights activities.”

Ales Bialiatski also added: “I cannot understand why I am being incriminated. I cannot understand which amounts listed in the charges are believed to be part of my income. I cannot understand why I was supposed to pay taxes on these amounts. These charges are of a technical nature. In actuality, I am being persecuted for political reasons because of my human rights activities. This is the true nature of the charges.”

The Public Prosecutor stated that Bialiatski’s guilt will be proven through testimony by witnesses and material evidence. He also proposed that pre-trial restrictions could be changed to release on bail or release upon restitution of damages or guarantees if Ales does not interfere with the process and answers questions constructively and honestly.

However, Bialiatski’s lawyer stated that under the Belarusian Criminal Code, pre-trial restrictions cannot in any way be linked to testifying, but rather are imposed depending on the risk of flight by the defendant.

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