Statement of the BKDP Council in connection with the arrests of activists and leaders of the independent trade union movement in Belarus
of the Council of the Association of Trade Unions
“Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions”
dated May 13, 2022
On April 19, officers of the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus arrested more than 20 trade union leaders and activists, 10 of whom are still in jail. Among them are the Chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP) Aliaksandr Yarashuk, BKDP Deputy Chairman Siarhei Antusevich, BKDP accountant Irina But-Gusaim; leaders of the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio and Electronic Industry Workers (REP) – Vasily Beresnev and Gennady Fedynich; Deputy Chairman of the Free Metalworkers’ Union (SPM) Yanina Malash, activists – Mikhail Gromov and Vitaly Chichmarev.
The Chairman of the Belarusian Free Trade Union (SPB) Nikolai Sharakh was released under a written undertaking not to leave while being in the status of a suspect. So far, Zinaida Mikhnyuk, who was arrested earlier, is still detained. The REP trade union has been recognized as an extremist formation. The BNP lost three primary organizations.
We strongly condemn such an intrusion into the legal activities of democratic trade unions, the right to which is protected by ILO conventions and Belarusian legislation. We are insisting on the immediate release of our comrades from custody.
The Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions will continue its work! We will keep on fighting for workers’ rights and call on the state authorities to implement the fundamental conventions of the ILO.
The BKDP expresses its gratitude to all its colleagues – the ILO, the global union federations, all sister unions – for their support in these difficult times. At the same time, we call for increased international solidarity for the speedy release of all our brothers and sisters.
BKDP Acting Chairman
In connection with the mass arrests of trade union activists, including the BKDP leaders Aliaksandr Yarashuk and Siarhei Antusevich, and according to the resolution of the Council of the BKDP, Maksim Poznyakov will act as the Chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Independent Trade Unions.
Maksim Poznyakov until 2019 was the deputy head of the primary organization of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union (BNP) at JSC Naftan. Then he headed the BNP – one of the oldest independent trade unions in the country.