Today exactly twenty years ago politician Viktor Gonchar and businessman Anatoly Krasovsky were subjected to involuntary disappearance.
On September 16 1999 Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky had an appointment in a sauna house on Fabrichnaya street in Minsk. Due to witnesses of people living in the neighbouring apartment blocks, the two men were attacked by a group of unidentified people and taken away in an auto. Since that day officially their whereabouts remain unknown.
Today in Eindhoven, Netherlands, commemoration ceremony will take place to mark the 20th anniversary of Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky disappearance. Eindhoven is the setting for the commemoration since September 16, 2008 when the four trees were planted in the centre of the city in memory of the four prominent disappeared Belarusian men: Yuri Zakharenko, Victor Gonchar, Anatoly Krasovsky, Dmitry Zavadsky. The ceremony will be opened by daughter of Anatoly Krasovsky, Valeriya. For more information (in Dutch) please refer to the official web-site of the event: www.vierbomen.nl
1999 was a year of bitter confrontation between the Lukashenko regime and opponents of the imposed by him on the 1996 referendum new version of the Constitution that fixed among other things a new date for presidential elections. Political forces that did not recognize the modified by Lukashenko Constitution and his claims to remain in office until 2001 had an unwavering purpose in the course of the struggle against the regime to hold the elections in 1999 as was predetermined by the first Constitution of independent Belarus.
A considerable number of Lukashenko’s opponents closed the ranks around the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation. Before the 1996 referendum that dissolved this supreme legislative body of the country, the Supreme Soviet did not represent specific political views. It embodied the Law and was a serious obstacle for Lukashenko to gain unlimited power. Thus, the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation denied Lukashenko’s demand to extend his term in office to seven years and modify the Constitution to extend power of the executive branch. The 1996 referendum initiated by Lukashenko in order to crush the resistance of the legislature was held with violations incompatible with fundamental legal regulations. Since then Lukashenko perceived the figure of Mr. Gonchar, deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet, as his direct political rival.
The danger for Lukashenko posed by the activities of the opposition that in 1999 fixed the purpose of alternative presidential elections had nothing to do with stripping him of the prolonged term in office. The opposition had an effective instrument to destroy the Lukashenko regime as a house of cards. To hold presidential elections ignoring the imposed version of the Constitution meant to catch the regime on the spot of its first grave crime, to publicly prove the illegitimate nature of its rule. Lukashenko was aware of this danger precisely because the 1996 referendum was designed by him as a means of absolute usurpation of power in the country and a guarantee of perpetuation in office. Therefore the solidity of the danger for Lukashenko posed by the political forces united with the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation cannot be overestimated.
Viktor Gonchar, deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation, Lukashenko’s irreconcilable opponent, a generally recognized opposition leader, and his friend, prominent entrepreneur Anatoly Krasovsky who financed the opposition movement, drew close attention of special services responsible for the regime’s security. Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky were put under surveillance, their telephones bugged.
The tragedy was set to happen on September 16, 1999. In the afternoon of that day Anatoly Krasovsky and Viktor Gonchar were abducted. The law enforcement agencies started investigating the case; however all known to date evidence has been collected by volunteers. That includes windscreen fragments of Mr. Krasovsky’s car used by the friends that day found on Fabrichnaya Street in Minsk, traces of blood identified as Mr. Gonchar’s by an independent expert examination. These and other evidence clarify the details of the abduction and are recognized by general public as a proof of direct involvement of security services. The official investigation, despite the fact of permanent surveillance over Viktor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky conducted by the KGB, announced that the case could not be solved. After Mr. Gonchar and Mr. Krasovsky disappeared the KGB issued a statement claiming that surveillance was suspended precisely on September 16.
Back in 2004 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a special resolution where it demanded Belarusian authorities to “ensure that all necessary measures are taken to investigate fully and impartially all cases of forced disappearance, summary execution and torture and that perpetrators are brought to justice before an independent tribunal and, if found guilty, punished in a manner consistent with the international human rights obligations of Belarus”. The resolution named high officials Sheyman, Sivakov, Pavlichenko, Naumov as possible suspects in the abduction and murder of Yuri Zakharenko, Victor Gonchar, Anatoly Krasovsky and Dmitry Zavadsky. Belarusian authorities ignored the resolution.
In 2012 the United Nations Human Rights Committee has adopted its decision on the case of enforced disappearance of Anatoly Krasovsky. The Committee concluded that Belarus failed to properly investigate and take adequate remedial actions regarding the disappearance of Mr. Krasovsky. The Committee obliged Belarus to provide the victims of the disappearance of Mr. Krasovsky with an effective remedy, including a thorough and diligent investigation of the disappearance, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators. Further, the Committee obliged Belarus to provide adequate information concerning the results of the inquires to the authors of the complaint — Mrs. Irina Krasovskaya and Ms. Valeriya Krasovskaya. Finally, it obliged Belarus to provide the authors with an adequate compensation Belarusian authorities ignored the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The whereabouts of Voctor Gonchar and Anatoly Krasovsky remains unknown to their families.