BKDP-leader Alexander Yarushuk was detained at the border between Belarus and Lithuania

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BKDP-leader Alexander Yarushuk was detained on 19th May by Belarussian custom authorities at the border between Belarus and Lithuania without explanation. BKDP stands for Congress of Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus, the only independent trade union federation in Belarus.

At the moment of his detention Alexander Yarushuk was returning from Vilnius by bus. In the Lithuanian capital the BKDP president had attended a meeting on trade union issues, together with his vice-president Nikolai Kanakh and BKDP secretary for international affairs Oleg Podolinski. When they entered Belarus customs officers entered the bus for passport control. They asked Alexander Yarushuk to leave the bus with his luggage. The bus with the other passengers continued its journey.

The inspection of the BKDP leader at the border at Kamenniy Log lasted two and a half hours. The Customs officers inspected his luggage in detail, Alexander himself was also inspected thoroughly. Under the article on "Customs rules for personal inspection" his clothes, underwear and shoes were inspected, in presence of two witnesses. Alexander had to sign 5  receipts. The border guards and the custom officers apologised and underlined that they did not act on their own initiative, but that they were just following instructions.

The detention and personal inspection of the BKDP president, who is also vice-president of the ITUC and member of the PERC executive committee, is without doubt connected to his trade union activities. The BKDP refused to participate in a tripartite seminar with government representatives and the ILO because the government had unilaterally imposed a programme imposed by the government. Soon the situation in Belarus will again be subject of debate at ILO Annual Conference in Geneva.

The government is therefore probably trying to put psychological pressure on the BKDP leader on the eve of the ILO Conference. The government action has alos announced it is drawing up a list of 200 persons whom they consider suspect, who in the future will be prohibited from leaving Belarus. On June 2d, when Alexander Yarushuk is supposed to travel to Geneva to participate in the ILO Annual Conference, new problems may arise for him at the border.

Members of the independent trade unions affiliated to BKDP have expressed their strong protest against the latest action of the authorities, which they named discrimination against the leader of the independent trade union movement in Belarussia.

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