Court upholds liquidation suit against Rukh Naperad
A judge of the Minsk City Economic Court on Tuesday upheld the city government`s liquidation suit against Rukh Naperad (Movement Forward), the organization behind the "Tell the Truth!" campaign led by presidential contender Uladzimir Nyaklyayew.
Dzmitry Antanevich, an official of the Minsk City Executive Committee, told Judge Andrey Rybalkin that Rukh Naperad had concluded a lease contract with OOO Tina Vlati, a retailer of Italian furniture, for trade space to use it as its office, which he said was in violation of applicable regulations.
Mr. Antanevich accused the organization of delivering "knowingly false information" about its lease contract when applying to the city authorities for registration.
On July 29, the Minsk City Economic Court ruled that the office lease contract with OOO Tina Vlati was null and void, which meant that the organization had never had a legal address, the official said, noting that its attempts to have the ruling overturned had been unsuccessful.
Viktar Sazonaw, a representative of Rukh Naperad, denied that the organization provided any knowingly false information to the Minsk City Executive Committee.
Rukh Naperad leased only the office part of the premises and, besides, the authorities cannot cite a single provision of Belarusian laws that bans organizations from having an office at retail premises, he said.
Mr. Sazonaw said that Rukh Naperad had concluded a new lease agreement with OOO Tina Vlati following the court-ordered cancellation of the first contract.
"If the leased space cannot be used as office space because of its formally specified purpose, the Minsk City Executive Committee should just prohibit the organization from using the premises instead of annulling its registration," he said. "The argument that knowingly false information was submitted is just incongruous for the liquidation suit."
The judge took sides with the city authorities, noting that Rukh Naperad might appeal the ruling to the board of the Minsk City Economic Court or the Supreme Economic Court.
Rukh Naperad deputy director Nina Pakhlopka told BelaPAN that the organization was set to appeal this "predictable" ruling. "The decision shows that a fair judiciary is in place in a country other than ours. But I still hope that there are honest judges in our courts who take fair decisions."
Earlier, Mr. Nyaklyayew, who is director of Rukh Naperad, said that if it was closed down, he would consider registering a new organization.
Syarhey Alfer, an expert in elections and electoral laws, told BelaPAN that the court ruling was unlikely to affect Mr. Nyaklyayew’s chances of getting registration as a candidate in the country’s presidential campaign.
When applying for the registration of his nomination group, Mr. Nyaklyayew indicated Rukh Naperad as his place of employment, but he cannot be charged with submitting knowingly false information as the information was true at the time when the application was filed, Mr. Alfer said. "Besides, the liquidation of an organization takes time and Mr. Nyaklyayew will remain director of Rukh Naperad until the completion of the procedure," he said.