Posted: 06.06.2024 09:12:00

UN level cynicism

Why does the United Nations so reverently monitor that the rights of murderers are not violated?

In 2015, Belarusian law enforcement agencies detained members of the ‘black realtors’ gang. The criminals gained the confidence of lonely people and alcohol abusers, solved their financial problems, offered relocation to a smaller living space and, having sold their flats, killed the owners. The investigation reliably established that during the period from 2009 to 2015, at least six people died at the hands of murderers. Some of the victims were buried alive. What is the interest of the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in this case?

Long-forgotten ones

The investigation into the case lasted almost two years in Belarus, followed by eight months of court sessions and a logical result — in July 2017, the Mogilev Regional Court sentenced Berezhnoi and Gershankov to death, while Gershankova received 24 years in prison and Kolesnikov — 22 years.
The criminals unsuccessfully appealed their verdicts in all possible instances. Gershankov and Berezhnoi even appealed to the UN — not by themselves obviously, but through the so-called ‘human rights defenders’ — those who consider it an honour and the purpose of life to portray any type of scum as a victim of the ‘Belarusian dictatorship’. Yet, despite the fuss created by human rights activists around the sentence imposed on Berezhnoi and Gershankov, it was carried out in 2018.
Almost 6 years have passed since then. The unmarked graves where the murderers were buried are long lost in oblivion, as well as the mere memory of them. However, the names of the sadists have surfaced at the UN in 2024. By the way, after the execution of the sentence in 2018, ‘human rights defenders’ appealed to the UNHRC with a complaint on behalf of Gershankov’s and Berezhnoi’s mothers. They complained that the rights of the criminals had been violated. The Committee has considered those complaints only this year. 

No compassion for victims 

The complaint on behalf of Gershankov’s and Berezhnoi’s mothers listed the violations that ‘human rights defenders’ saw in the ‘black realtors’ case — the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence, the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment, the right to life. After reading this complaint, one could get an impression that the bonfires of the Inquisition are still burning in Belarus, and guilt is determined by the method ‘drowned, so not guilty’.
Strangely enough, the UNHRC did not agree with the torture and ill-treatment complaint, although they usually tend to believe even the wildest fantasies. Apparently, the ‘human rights defenders’ got carried away in their fabrication. Gershankov and Berezhnoi were not tortured and testified of their own free will, without physical influence or coercion — that is what the UN decided. Thus, they are guilty and there can be no complaints.
The UN Human Rights Committee should have stopped at that point in order to think about the type of crime Gershankov and Berezhnoi had committed. The officials could have tried to imagine, at least for a second, what a person feels when they are thrown into a pit and buried alive, tied hand and foot. In some cases, the ‘black realtors’ drugged the victim with alcohol to a vegetative state, and then strangled the person in a helpless condition with a wire, cord, rope — whatever came to hand... The murderers had done all of this routinely, without any compassion for the victim, the main goal being to put another ten or fifteen thousand dollars in their pockets.

Juggling dates and figures

The injustice of the verdict and violation of the presumption of innocence were vividly described in the document manufactured by ‘human rights defenders’. They started with the detention. Gershankov and Berezhnoi were arrested on March 26th, 2015, and a warrant for their detention was issued on April 3rd. ‘What a horror!’ exclaim ‘human rights defenders’ in tune with the UNHRC. So what is the ‘horror’ about?  
Before being charged, a detainee may be held in custody for 72 hours by decision of the body that carried out the detention. In special cases, such as when a detainee is suspected of committing an extremely serious crime — let us remind that this case refers to at least six murders — the period of detention without charge can be extended up to 10 days. Then charges are brought and the prosecutor’s office determines the measure of restraint. In the case of Gershankov and Berezhnoi, detention was unequivocal.
Belarus always responded to such claims that ‘pre-trial detention was carried out in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code of Belarus’. This is an absolutely exhaustive answer to the far-fetched accusations that Berezhnoi and Gershankov were brought to court 580 days after their arrest. In fact, they were delivered as soon as the court sessions began. However, the UNHRC used all this juggling with dates and figures as the basis for recognising the verdict… unfair.   
There was more to come. It turns out that the accused were kept in metal cages and handcuffs during the trial proceedings. Moreover, the violation was found in the fact that after the judgement had been delivered, the criminals were taken to the appeal hearing dressed in jail uniforms with the ‘EMP’ [Exceptional Measure of Punishment] inscription on their back, and were escorted to the courtroom in a humiliating and uncomfortable position reserved for persons sentenced to death (with their heads bent towards their knees). 
Can you imagine cruel murderers who have nothing left to lose, sitting without handcuffs in the courtroom literally on the neighbouring bench with witnesses and victims? What about the consequences of such ‘observance of rights’?
As for the jail uniform with the ‘EMP’ inscription and an uncomfortable position during the escort — these attributes appear from the moment the accused is sentenced to death, even before the verdict has come into force. This is also provided for by Belarusian legislation. After all, the most violent criminals who pose a real danger to other citizens, including to employees of the convoy service, are sentenced to capital punishment in Belarus.
Furthermore, the journalists who attended the court sessions appeared to be not up to the mark, in the opinion of the Committee, since they spread information about the process and called Gershankov and Berezhnoi guilty of the murders, which led to ‘biased public opinion against them and to problems finding lawyers willing to take on their criminal cases’. The court was allegedly influenced by the media, as well, that is why it handed down such a harsh sentence to the accused…  
In reality, it was the so-called independent media that wrote more about the criminal guilt of Gershankov and Berezhnoi. Info-scavengers competed with each other to see who would come up with more atrocities. Yet, who is going to look into it? The UN Human Rights Committee is definitely not.

‘Killed’ murderers

Of course, ‘human rights defenders’ did not skip out on a chance to mention the much-speculated violation of the right to life. Immediately after the punishable by death sentence had been pronounced, ‘human rights defenders’ appealed to the UNHRC and the latter issued a letter called ‘a request for urgent provisional measures’. This means that until the UNHRC has considered the verdict and all the complaints of the accused and given the go-ahead to proceed, it is by no means possible to execute the sentence.   
In the case of Berezhnoi and Gershankov, six years have passed since the sentencing. Thus, having considered the complaints, the UNHRC recognised the verdict as violating the criminals’ right to life. That is some twisted quirky logic. According to the results of many years of correspondence with the UN, it was probably planned to release the ‘great guys’ from prison with apologies and appropriate compensation. This is exactly what justice looks like in the understanding of the UNHRC.
The words about compensation are far from being a joke. The Committee decided that Belarus should pay the authors of the appeal, that is the mothers of the murderers, ‘proper monetary compensation for the death of their sons, as well as, if applicable, reimbursement of court costs incurred’. Isn’t that too noble towards the evil spirits that rightfully ended their existence by a court verdict?
Not only does the UN Human Rights Committee cynically represent Gershankov and Berezhnoi as victims, but it also believes that Belarus should pay for their death and apologise to their families. Do the UNHRC officials mean that Belarus should apologise for depriving the murderers of an opportunity to kill more people? Or for the fact that it is the Law that is in force in Belarus, and not the parody arranged by committees that protect anything but human rights? That is not going to happen. Whatever the UN would think about it.
By Alena Krasovskaya