In a brave statement of 28th April the Russian trade union confederation KTR declares full support for the jailed trade union leaders of the independent unions in Belarus. About 20 leaders of the Belarus confederation BKDP and its affiliated unions were arrested by the KGB 19th April, and we still do not know what they are accused of. It is likely that an important reason is the resistance against Putin's invasion in Ukraine, an invasion against which both KTR and BKDP made strong statements.
Here is the KTR statement:
The Executive Committee of the Confederation of Labor of Russia declares its full and unconditional support for our fraternal organization - the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP).
On April 19, 2022, the security forces of the Republic of Belarus detained the leaders of the BKDP and its member branch organizations: Alexander Yaroshuk, Sergei Antusevich, Irina But-Gusaim, Alexander Evdokimchik, Vitaly Chichmarem, Yana Malash, Mikhail Gromov, Vasily Beresnev, Gennady Fedynich, Dmitry Borodko, Vatslav Oreshko, Nikolai Sharakh, Alexander Bukhvostov. Earlier, Olga Britikova, Zinaida Mikhnyuk, Yury Shcherbakov were detained. All these people are still kept in pre-trial detention centers. A number of other detained activists were released on bail not to leave and not to disclose. Contact has been lost with individual members of the trade unions and their fate is unknown. At the moment, according to information received by the KTR, most of the detainees face criminal charges that include penalties associated with long terms of imprisonment.
The work of the BKDP as a national trade union center is completely paralyzed.
The Executive Committee of the Confederation of Labor of Russia states that in this way an unprecedented case of mass severe persecution of citizens in connection with the exercise of their right to independent trade union activity was allowed in the Republic of Belarus.
Russian and Belarusian trade unions have been linked by decades of close fruitful cooperation in the field of protecting the social and labor rights and interests of the workers of the two countries. The formation, development and activities of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions and its sectoral member organizations developed before our eyes. We are convinced that this activity in each of its manifestations is peaceful, legal and positive, and is carried out in the interests of working citizens of the Republic of Belarus. The BKDP has been fulfilling its mission for many years to develop democratic institutions, humane and fair relations in the national sphere of labor and in the Belarusian society as a whole in difficult conditions for itself, constant pressure on the trade union activists, in the struggle for recognition of its right to represent and protect the interests of ordinary workers.
The Confederation of Labor of Russia considers it unacceptable to use open hard pressure against the leaders of the trade union movement of the Republic of Belarus. We call on the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to take immediate measures to release the detained leaders and activists of trade union organizations and to ensure conditions for the continuation of the legal activities of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions in full.
The Confederation of Labor of Russia declares its support and participation in a broad international public campaign to protect the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, its leaders and activists.