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Independent Unions In Belarus Raided, Accused Of Tax Evasion

MINSK -- The offices of two major independent trade unions in Belarus have been raided and searched by financial police.

The headquarters of the Union of Workers of Electronic Outputs Producing Industry (REP) in Minsk and those of the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions in the central city of Salihorsk were searched on August 2 by officers from the Financial Investigations Department.

The officers confiscated office equipment and financial documents and the two organizations' leaders were interrogated.

They were told the searches were conducted as investigations were launched into alleged tax evasion by the trade unions.

REP Chairman Henadz Fyadynich told reporters on August 3 that his organization’s chief bookkeeper, Ihor Komlik, has been detained and remains in custody. Fyadynich added that he was ordered not to leave Minsk as the investigation is under way.

Fyadynich also said that the case against him, his assistants, and his organization is politically motivated.

He added that the case "surely is connected to" February-March mass protests against an unpopular labor law that taxes people who are unemployed.

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