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  • Punishing the Criminals is a Matter of Time

    On May 7, a documentary Banda was presented in Minsk dedicated to abductions of some politicians and the journalist Dzmitry Zavadski in 1999-2000.

    The movie was cre­at­ed by the orga­ni­za­tion Belaru­sian Doc­u­men­tary Cen­ter (Vil­nius, Lithua­nia). The idea of the movie belongs to the chair of the orga­ni­za­tion Raisa Mikhailouskaya. The pre­sen­ta­tion gath­ered around 30 peo­ple, among them jour­nal­ists, human rights defend­ers, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of polit­i­cal par­ties.

    Do we remem­ber those abduct­ed? “I think peo­ple for­got them long ago,” says Vol­ha, moth­er of Dzmit­ry Zavad­s­ki. “Almost no one remem­bers them, except for sev­er­al peo­ple involved in the cas­es. So, I would like to find response in hearts of the young. Young peo­ple must know what is going on in the coun­try. I want them to think, ana­lyze, stay open and to be a com­mu­ni­ty.” She said she liked the movie although she did not agree with the ver­sion of her son’s abduc­tion.

    The case of Dzmit­ry Zavad­s­ki was the only polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed abduc­tion that end­ed up with court pro­ceed­ings. The case was heard in 2002. How­ev­er, there was no body, no answer if he was mur­dered or alive, what the motive for the abduc­tion was. The inves­ti­ga­tion came to a stand­still. Mean­time, some of those con­vict­ed under the case already com­plet­ed their prison terms. “It looks like the inves­ti­ga­tion is going on, but we get no infor­ma­tion about it,” says Vol­ha Zavad­skaya, moth­er of the abduct­ed. She also remind­ed that on July 7, 2015 the case would be barred by the statute of lim­i­ta­tions, accord­ing to the pre­vi­ous ver­sion of the Crim­i­nal Code of Belarus (the 15-year term expires).

    The movie Ban­da (Gang) aims to store and sys­tem­atize infor­ma­tion about these res­onat­ing cas­es and to put for­ward it to younger audi­ences who might be not aware of the abduc­tions. The music of the movie, a rap piece was com­posed by an 18-year-old musi­cian.

    The direc­tors are Pavel Bandzich and Yauhen Shapchyts, scriptwrit­ers Raisa Mikhailouskaya and Mary­na Biali­atskaya. It took almost a year to sys­tem­atize events, doc­u­ments, to lis­ten to wit­ness­es of the cas­es and to make the movie. The movie includes talks with Aleh Alka­yeu, Iry­na Kra­souskaya, Vol­ha and Svi­at­lana Zavad­skaya, Vasil Liavonau, Zinai­da Han­char, Mechys­lau Hryb, Pavel Sharam­et, Hans-Georg Wieck and oth­ers. The doc­u­men­tary lasts over 50 min­utes and con­sists of 7 parts. Soon, the movie will be pub­lished on the web­site of the Belaru­sian Doc­u­men­tary Cen­ter.

    On May 7, it turned 16 years since the abduc­tion of Yury Zakha­ran­ka, for­mer Min­is­ter of Home Affairs of Belarus. The aggriev­ed per­sons in the case are moth­er of the abduct­ed Ulyana Zakha­ran­ka and the wife Vol­ha Zakha­ran­ka.

    The case of Zakha­ran­ka should have been barred by the statute of lim­i­ta­tions already year ago, said Aleh Volchak, head of the cen­ter Legal Aid to the Pop­u­la­tion (Kyiv, Ukraine). “How­ev­er, the Gen­er­al prosecutor’s office and the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee replied to our requests that the case was not closed and the inves­ti­ga­tion was going on.”

    The human rights defend­er thinks that the offi­cials extend inves­ti­ga­tion inten­tion­al­ly. As soon as the case is closed, the aggriev­ed per­sons and their lawyers will have a pos­si­bil­i­ty to read the doc­u­ments and check what has been done for these 16 years. It means pub­li­ciz­ing the results of the inves­ti­ga­tion and a new infor­ma­tion­al wave. “Now, the top­ic of the abduct­ed is incon­ve­nient, and even dan­ger­ous for talks, for inter­na­tion­al meet­ings. Though, I think this is the main issue to raise right now. We must talk about it today, right now, before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.”

    Aleh Volchak called on every­one who knows some­thing to speak up. “There are no ide­al crimes,” he said. A mur­der does not solve a prob­lem, but only adds up to it. All facts, wit­ness­es will come to sur­face by them­selves, with time. When the author­i­ties change, every­one involved in the events will talk, will tes­ti­fy. Noth­ing was for­got­ten, every­thing was reg­is­tered.”

    The polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed abduc­tions are con­sid­ered dis­ap­pear­ances of:

    - Yury Zakha­ran­ka, for­mer Min­is­ter of Home Affairs of Belarus, abduct­ed 1999;

    - Vik­tar Han­char, Vice-Speak­er of the Supreme Coun­cil of the 13 Con­vo­ca­tion, abduct­ed 1999;

    - Ana­tol Kra­sous­ki, busi­ness­man, abduct­ed 1999;

    - Dzmit­ry Zavad­s­ki, jour­nal­ist, cam­era­man of the 1st chan­nel (Rus­sia), abduct­ed 2000.

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