MINSK, 13 October (BelTA) - All UN agencies, funds and programmes working in Belarus are focused on continuing their work with and for Belarus, reads a statement of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Belarus Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, BelTA has learmed.
“The United Nations Office of the Resident Coordinator in Belarus is aware of reports and existing concerns of the Government of Belarus in connection with a legal aid programme benefiting certain vulnerable groups of persons. The UN is in communication with the Government of Belarus on this issue,” the statement reads.
“The UN Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team, including all UN agencies, funds and programmes working in Belarus are focused on continuing our work with and for Belarus and we look forward to further collaboration with Belarusian authorities and civil society partners, including in the area of sustainable development and human rights,” UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki said.
A reminder, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva 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.
In line with this 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.
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.