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Prominent businessman gets 6 years in prison for tax evasion in Belarus
Aliaksandr Knyrovich held an Osho book during the verdict pronouncement. Euroradio image
The Minsk City Court on 4 July found Aliaksandr Knyrovich who owns the Sarmat group of companies guilty of large-scale tax evasion.
The state prosecutor asked Judge Yulia Krepskaya to punish Knyrovich with six years in jail and she satisfied the demand. The businessman was sentenced to six years in a high-security prison and the confiscation of property. He is also banned to take managerial positions.
Aliaksandr Knyrovich was detained on 25 January 2017. He has spent 525 days behind bars.
Aliaksandr Knyrovich did not declare himself guilty and said he would appeal the verdict. He also said the court was under pressure following the statement by Belarusian president Aliaksandr Lukashenka who spoke harshly about this case just one day after the businessman'd detention:
"He is as crooked as a dog's hind leg - along with the dozen of those who were arrested... There are hundreds of thousand dollars involved. All their black accounting schemes have been exposed. And most importantly, he is now appealing for clemency and is ready to pay and compensate the losses to the state and is admitting his guilt. They are as crooked as a dog's hind leg. There will be no mercy for thieves. A thief must sit in jail! This is the resolution that I have just put on the report of the State Security Committee chairman."
Aliaksandr Knyrovich is a key figure in Belarusian business circles. In his regular interviews and articles published in Belarusian media, he critisized the economic situation in Belarus. Three critical articles by Knyrovich on the KYKY.org website led to the blocking of this media outlet by the Ministry of Information in June 2015.