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13 October 2021, 12:48

Details of misuse of funds by UN staff in Belarus disclosed

An archive photo
An archive photo

MINSK, 13 October (BelTA) – The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva has disclosed the details of how financial resources were misspent by the staff of the UN Office in Belarus. The misuse of funds by the UN staff had been previously mentioned by Belarus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei, BelTA informs.

In accordance with UN Human Rights Council resolution 12/2, a report “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights” is issued annually on behalf of the UN Secretary-General. “The report (A/HRC/48/28), prepared for the 48th session of the HRC (13 September – 8 October 2021), includes false information about Sergei Drozdovsky who was in charge of the Belarusian non-governmental organization “Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, about which the UN Secretariat was informed at the stage of preparation of the draft report. Long before the preparation of report A/HRC/48/28 started, the UN had been provided with detailed information by the Republic of Belarus explaining the reasons for launching the criminal investigation against Sergei Drozdovsky. It was well aware that Sergei Drozdovsky had become a “victim” of unacceptable, unprofessional and politically motivated activities of the employees of the UN Office in the Republic of Belarus,” the statement posted on the website of the mission reads.

According to the statement, the Senior Human Rights Adviser appointed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Belarus initiated the misuse of OHCHR funds that were intended to be used to provide legal assistance to persons with disabilities or victims of domestic violence.

In August 2020, after externally incited riots took place in Belarus following the announcement of the election results, on the initiative and with further support of the UN official, two employees of the UN Office in Belarus, being fully aware of the illegality of their actions, developed and implemented an illegal scheme to help Belarusian nationals who were neither persons with disabilities nor domestic violence victims to cover lawyer fees. These citizens participated in illegal protests aimed at undermining statehood and overthrowing the current government. As a result, lawyers were paid illegally to defend 23 citizens.

Payment documents were processed covertly, bypassing the official procedures, through the Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Its director Sergei Drozdovsky was involved in these illegal activities with his full knowledge and understanding. So was a lawyer of this institution. Thus, the Belarusian citizens Sergei Drozdovsky and the lawyer of the institution, at suggestion and with participation of several employees of the UN Office in Belarus, misused the UN funds that were allocated to provide assistance to people with disabilities and victims of domestic violence, which constitutes a criminal offense.

Sergei Drozdovsky and his employee were charged with a crime under Article 209-2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (fraud committed repeatedly or by a group of persons). Pre-trial restraint was applied to these persons. Sergei Drozdovsky, taking into account his disability, was placed under house arrest. The pre-trial restrain was lifted on 30 July 2021. “So, the allegations of ill-treatment of Sergei Drozdovsky are just as outright lie as any other information presented in report A/HRC/48/28,” the Belarusian diplomats said.

Being an honest partner, the Republic of Belarus did not disclose the fact of misuse of funds by the UN employees, although this case seriously damaged the trustful and previously stable relations between Belarus and the UN. “The only reason why the report A/HRC/48/28 has mentioned Sergei Drozdovsky as a person persecuted for his cooperation with the UN is the desire to please Western donors who have launched an aggressive anti-Belarusian campaign in the UN,” the statement reads. “Deciding to earn career points on the ‘Belarusian theme', some UN employees distorted the facts and mislead the international community, likely hoping that the unpleasant and unacceptable facts defaming the UN would not come out,” the Permanent Mission said.

Yet, the facts speak for themselves: an international UN official, who served as a senior human rights adviser at the UN Office in Belarus, demonstrated political bias, encouraged Belarusian citizens to violate the national legislation, thereby grossly violated the principles of conduct of UN personnel which are enshrined in the UN Staff Regulations. However, this did not affect his career in any way. Subsequently, he was employed in the OHCHR system.

According to the Permanent Mission, Paragraphs 1.4, 1.5 and 1.8 of the United Nations Staff Regulations, approved by UNGA Resolution 590 (VI) of 2 February 1952, provide that UN personnel cannot engage in activities incompatible with the proper discharge of their duties, and shall avoid any actions, which may adversely reflect on their status. They also must exercise the utmost discretion in regard to all matters of official business. The immunities and privileges attached to the United Nations by virtue of Article 105 of the Charter cannot be used as an excuse for those staff members who enjoy them for non-performance of their private obligations or failure to observe laws and police regulations of the host State.

“Unfortunately, today the UN Secretariat is churning out reports that fully meet the political goals of the West, regardless of the position of other states, disregarding real facts and even its own image. Thus, the UN Secretariat is becoming an agent of biased, one-sided and divisive agenda. A split in the UN must not be allowed. Dividing states, at the suggestion of the collective West, into ‘good' and ‘bad' can lead to the destruction of the Organization and to the complete dismantling of multilateral diplomacy,” the Permanent Mission concluded.

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