Belarus: KGB detains union leaders

photo: AFP

At least fourteen leaders and officials of the independent trade union movement in Belarus have been detained by the country’s security service, the KGB.

Those detained include Aleksandr Yarashuk, president of the ITUC-affiliated BKDP; BKDP vice president Sergey Antusevich; Aleksandr Bukhvostov, president of the Free Trade Union of Metalworkers SPM; and Nikolay Sharakh, president of the Free Trade Union of Belarus SPB.

The union leaders’ residences, as well as union offices, have been subjected to intensive searches, including of PCs and other electronic devices, union paraphernalia and even books.

The attacks on the BKDP and its member unions are the latest in a long series of repressive acts. In March, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association heavily criticised the government over its continued failure to implement key recommendations of a 2004 ILO Commission of Inquiry.

A number of the union representatives who have provided testimony to the ILO on Belarus in recent years are amongst those detained. The ITUC is informing the ILO of these latest outrageous developments.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “These are yet further examples of the sustained anti-union campaign by the Lukashenko regime and appear also to be in reaction to the independent trade unions’ bravery in criticising Lukashenko and his government for their active support of Russian President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

"We call for their immediate release, the restoration of all the items seized to their rightful owners and an end to the ongoing intimidation and harassment of the BKDP, its leadership and its affiliates.”

Go here to sign the LabourStart petition demanding the immediate release of all the activists and an end to the prosecution of independent trade unions in Belarus.