MIKHAIL CHIGIR WONT GO TO JAIL. Belaruss Ex-Prime Minister Gets Three-Year Suspended Sentence

Author: Igor Grigoryev

MIKHAIL CHIGIR WONT GO TO JAIL. Belaruss Ex-Prime Minister Gets Three-Year Suspended Sentence. (By Igor Grigoryev. Vremya MN, May23, 2000, p.2. Excerpts:) Minsk Belarussian ex-prime minister Mikhail Chigir was arrested over a year ago, but his trial ended only last week.1... And now he has been sentenced....

1[For a report of the opening of the trial, see Current Digest, Vol.52, No.3, p.15.]

Prosecutor Viktor Zhigel...asked that the defendant be sentenced to five years incarceration, to be served in an intensified-regime corrective labor colony.... But the court decided otherwise, giving the ex-prime minister a three-year suspended sentence with a two-year probationary period.

Readers may recall that the high-profile case began when the ex-prime minister was arrested. After spending eight months behind bars, Mikhail Chigir was released, and the trial began this past January. The defendant was charged with dereliction of duty, abuse of official position, and exceeding his authority while serving as executive board chairman at Belagroprombank [Belarussian Agro-Industrial Bank] and as prime minister. The case was based on episodes involving loans to three firms: MST ($50,000), Stroiinvest [Construction Investment] ($200,000) and BelOST ($900,000). The loans were never repaid....

In response to all the charges brought against him in court, Mikhail Chigir said in his final statement that he had nothing to be sorry for. The ex-prime minister said that the absurdity of the charges was so obvious to him that he saw no more point in trying to prove his innocence. Commenting on the charge that he had extended loans to several firms while serving as chairman of Belagroprombanks executive board, he said: "As it turns out, then, its bankers who commit crimes when they make loans, not borrowers when they fail to repay them." The defendant believes that it was his entry into politics namely, the fact that he was a presidential candidate in the election sponsored by the opposition that led to

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