Updated at 17:19,07-01-2021

Yury Chyzh released from jail

Vyachaslaw BUDKEVICH, Naviny.by

Yury Chyzh released from jail
Yury Chyzh, a prominent Belarusian businessman who was arrested in March, was reportedly released on Wednesday.

“Yes, he is out of jail. He took a sauna bath yesterday,” the news portal tut.by quoted a source close to the businessman’s family as saying.

According to the tut.by report, one source said that Mr. Chyzh was moved to house arrest and given six months to pay the amount determined to be due, but another source said that Mr. Chyzh was released on his own recognizance.

Yury Chyzh, 53, director general of a conglomerate called Triple, was arrested by the KGB on March 11. Ten days later, he was formally charged with felony tax evasion. His alleged damage to the state was estimated at millions of dollars.

KGB head Valery Vakulchyk told reporters in May that there were no grounds for Mr. Chyzh to be released from detention on his own recognizance.

General Vakulchyk said that Mr. Chyzh was being held in “special” conditions in the KGB detention center in Minsk.

“We have an equal attitude to everyone; all persons are equal before the law,” Mr. Vakulchyk said.

While speaking to reporters on March 15, the KGB chief revealed that Mr. Chyzh had used a Moscow-based dummy company in his tax evasion scheme.

The company officially employed one person, who served as Mr. Chyzh's aide and driver during his visits to the Russian capital, he said.

Evidence of the businessman's involvement in the tax evasion scheme was discovered by the KGB in the framework of its probe into the activities of Uladzimir Yapryntsaw, Mr. Chyzh's longtime business partner.

The probe had been launched at the request of Mr. Chyzh and his two Russian business partners, said Mr. Vakulchyk.

According to the KGB chief, the dummy company was registered in 2012. Triple made the Russian company the owner of its trademark and started transferring money to its account under the guise of payments for using the trademark. The money was regularly withdrawn from the account and handed to Mr. Chyzh.

The probe into Mr. Yapryntsaw’s alleged offenses led to criminal proceedings against Mr. Chyzh himself, who was arrested along with at least five senior executives of Triple.

“I will tell you honestly: the case against Chyzh is under the control of the president, not only because he is a leading businessman, but also because he was at times close to the president and many people associated his behavior with the president. I am not indifferent to this subject,” Alyaksandr Lukashenka told reporters on Sunday after casting his ballot in Belarus’ House of Representatives elections.

The Belarusian leader expressed confidence that law enforcement agencies would properly investigate the case of Mr. Chyzh and other similar cases.

As Mr. Lukashenka said, the universal rule is that businesspeople should pay three or five times the estimated damage from their crimes and be freed “to continue their work.”

Those who complied with the rule are now back in business and grateful for not being imprisoned for some 15 years, as would be the case in the United States, Mr. Lukashenka said. “This is democracy itself,” he added.

“The same holds true for Yury Alyaksandravich [Chyzh],” Mr. Lukashenka said. “As far as I know, he agree. This is not big money [for him]. The charges against him mean that he has to pay $12 million or $13 million.”

“Yury Alyaksandravich is treated equally with others and even better because there are many people employed in his company. I don’t want all this, but the truth is more important. No one should break the law. He should pay what is due. If he asks me for anything, I will consider his request and respond in the same manner as with regard to others. He knows this pretty well.”

Mr. Lukashenka revealed that Mr. Chyzh would have not been jailed if he had not attempted to flee the country.

In March 2012, Mr. Chyzh, who was often described as the wealthiest businessman in Belarus, was added to the European Union’s list of Belarusian individuals subject to entry bans and asset freezes for their role in Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s crackdown on political opponents.

In October 2015, the EU General Court abolished the restrictive measures against Mr. Chyzh and entities controlled by him, including the soccer club FC Dinamo Minsk.

After considering the Belarusian business tycoon's lawsuit seeking the lifting of the sanctions, the Court found that the Council of the European Union had "provided no evidence showing that Mr. Chyzh financially supported" the Lukashenka regime and ruled that the sanctions were not justified.

In 2013, Mr. Chyzh was awarded the Third-Class Order of the Fatherland by Mr. Lukashenka.

Triple, which was founded in 1992 as a limited liability company dealing in the wholesale of industrial and food products, has since grown into a conglomerate that runs construction, building materials, non-alcoholic beverage, retail chain customs services, restaurant and other businesses.