4 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The European Union today condemned a court decision in Belarus for imposing what it called "harsh penalties" on a top Belarusian human rights group.
In a statement, the EU said Minsk must cease its campaign against the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. It said it is "disappointed" that the Belarus Supreme Economic Court last month reversed an earlier decision and imposed large fines and back taxes, and threatened criminal prosecution against BHC's chairwoman and chief accountant.
The statement noted that the charges of tax evasion relate to EU aid provided under its "TACIS" program.
The EU says it believes Belarus is conducting a "politically-motivated attack" aimed at closing down one of the country's last remaining independent non-governmental organizations.
The statement also reaffirmed EU support for the work of the BHC, which it says has played an important role in promoting OSCE principles in Belarus.