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Belarus tightens grip on independent trade unions

29 April, 2022Belarusian authorities have escalated their campaign against independent trade unions, with more than 20 union leaders detained so far.

According to reports yesterday, Alexander Yaroshuk, chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), Sergei Antusevich, BKDP deputy chairman, BKDP accountant Irina But-Gusaim, Nikolai Sharakh, chairman of the Belarusian Free Trade Union are being held under on Organization and preparation of actions that grossly violate public order, or active participation in them Article 342 of the Criminal Code, which carry prison sentences up to four years.

The 66-year-old deputy chairman of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers, Alexander Evdokimtchik, is still behind bars. He was detained on 19 April and is currently held in the KGB pre-trial detention centre. Evdokimtchik is also held under Article 342 of the Criminal Code and has not been allowed to see a lawyer of his choice, but has been given a state-appointed lawyer.

On 27 April, Volha Brytsikava, union chairman at Naftan, was sentenced to 15 days of arrest for the fifth time. She has now been in jail for more than two months.
The last few days have seen two more independent unions falling victim as the authorities are tightening their grip. JSC “Mozyr OF” was excluded from the official trade union register, which effectively terminated the organization. In a statement, the prosecutor's office of Belarus’ Grodno region labelled the primary organization of JSC “Grodno Azot” extremist, prohibiting its activities and ordering liquidation.

International solidarity is needed

We need to raise the pressure as much as possible.

We therefore ask you to take action in support of independent unions in Belarus.

  • If Belarus has diplomatic representation in your country, please write to the embassy and to your government, to call for the release of all arrested trade unionists, to express clear support for the democratic trade union movement of Belarus and to exercise every possible pressure via diplomatic channels to ensure that the attacks against union activists are stopped.
  • Please publish a statement on your union website and through social media condemning the repression. Examples of statements, from IndustriALL and the ITUC 
  • Sign and share the LabourStart campaign

Photo: Alexander Evdokimtchik, the 66-year-old deputy chairman of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers, is still behind bars.