Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт

Presidential nominee Viktar Babaryka, campaign chief detained in new criminal case

Viktar Babaryka. Photo:
Viktar Babaryka. Photo:

Presidential nominee Viktar Babaryka and his son and campaign chief Eduard were detained this morning by the Department of Financial Investigations of the State Control Committee.

The two men were reportedly detained after they arrived at the Central Election Commission building to submit part of the signatures collected to support Babaryka’s presidential nomination. They were then brought in for questioning by the financial police. However, their whereabouts were not disclosed and their lawyers could not access their clients.

It was not until late afternoon that the authorities confirmed the detention of Babaryka and his son.

“Babaryka was detained in connection with the fact that he was the direct organizer of illegal activities, attempted to influence witnesses, hide the traces of previously committed crimes and the other day withdrew he a large amount of money from accounts controlled by him,” Ivan Tsertsel, head of the State Control Committee, said.

Viktar Babaryka’s lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski said that he had been trying to access his client since 9:30 am, but security guards prevented him from entering the building. After reporters arrived at the scene, the door was locked, the counsel added.

Earlier, the financial police raided the head office of Belgazprombank, formerly headed by Babaryka, and several affiliated businesses. Fifteen people were arrested on tax fraud and other charges.

Yesterday, the authorities froze Viktar Babaryka’s election account.

Human rights defenders say that the criminal prosecution of Babaryka and his supporters is illegal and politically motivated harassment aimed at forcing him to withdraw his presidential nomination.

UPD. Viktar Babaryka and his son Eduard have been transferred to the KGB pre-trial prison, said. According to Eduard Babaryka's girlfriend, he is accused of tax evasion.