Tax inspectorate wants to close the last human rights organization in Belarus
The Ministry of Taxation requests to initiate the the liquidation process of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. With such a message the tax inspectorate members appealed to the Ministry of Justice, which than informed the chairman of the BHC Oleg Gulak.
According to the law, when two warnings are issued to the public association during a year, the Ministry of Justice has the right to take the demand to court on suspending the organization's activity or its liquidation.
On June 6, 2011 Ministry of Justice has issued already the second written warning this year to the Belarusian Helsinki Committee. The reason for the warning were "violations of tax laws which are of a continuing nature". The appeal of this warning in court hasn't brought positive results to human rights defenders.
According to officials, the BHC must pay into the budget over Br 240 millions of taxes and penalties on the used in 2002-2003 grants of the European Commission, which under the international treaties of the Republic of Belarus were granted without paying taxes. In the framework of international technical assistance from the European Commission over 30 NGOs were funded, however, taxes have been charged only in respect to two organizations, reminds the press service of the BHC.
Ministry of Taxation of the Republic of Belarus of Moskovski District of Minsk confirmed the intended use of the received funds. However, the Inspectorate classified the grant funds as the income from non-sales activities and charged the payment amount.
Considering the decision of the Ministry of Taxation as illegal, the BHC appealed to the court. The national courts of all levels agreed, the human rights defenders had to refund nothing to the state budget.
But on the eve of presidential elections in 2006, monitored by the BHC, the decision of economic courts have been reviewed by the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Court. The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Taxation confiscated the property belonged to the BHC in the amount of Br 255.000. Accounts of the organization were arrested.
In addition, in 2006 the Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee has stopped the criminal case in the absence of a criminal action, which was brought against the BHC officials because of tax evasion.
UDF.BY website asked the chairman of the BHC Oleg Gulak to comment on the situation.
"There is a letter from the Ministry of Taxation to the Ministry of Justice. Ministry of Justice asks questions, and we're carrying on a correspondence about this. While we don't know that the Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit on the liquidation", the human rights defender explained. Gulak refused to evaluate the situation and on the question, whether the BHC associate this situation with increased pressure on the Belarusian human rights activists in recent times, he answered: "So far, there is not enough information to draw any conclusions".
We remind, now the Belarusian Helsinki Committee is the last registered in Belarus human rights organization of the national level. BHC monitors all election campaigns, makes expert's reports on the most high-profile cases, provides legal support to citizens in 11 cities across the country.