MP Peter Goldring condemns political show trials in Ukraine and now Belarus

November 28, 2011

Ottawa – The apparent use of the court system to silence political dissent in former Soviet republics is a disturbing trend, says Edmonton East Member of Parliament Peter Goldring.

Mr. Goldring is vice-chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Group and a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

“First was the case of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine. Now Ales Byalyatski, a long-time human rights defender and head of the human rights organization Vyasna has been convicted in Belarus. Both trials seem to me to have been politically motivated, and both these people are political prisoners. Both trials were described as not meeting any reasonable standard of process.

The Government of Canada has also condemned the conviction.

“Just as Yulia Tymoshenko received a sentence that would prevent her from running in the next election, so too the four and a half years Mr. Byalatski has received for alleged tax invasion seems designed to remove him from circulation,” Mr. Goldring says. Mr. Byalatski, who has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, was convicted of not paying personal income tax on donations made to Yyasna. In addition to the sentence he was fined and will have his property confiscated

Mr. Goldring says he will bring the matter to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) annual Parliamentary Assembly when it is held in July 2012.

“This is a matter of grave concern to all countries, and an international airing of the issue in this 56-country organization is necessary. Belarus and Ukraine are both OSCE members, and the other countries of Europe and North America need to call them to account for their actions. Democracy requires a free exchange of ideas. Democracy is not the jailing of opponents on trumped-up charges to make life easier for those in power.”