Viewing cable 05VILNIUS751
Title: WHEELS GRIND IN DETAINED BELARUSIAN COURIER CASE

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS7512005-07-20 11:00:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000751 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB AND EUR/UMB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2015 
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID BO LH
SUBJECT: WHEELS GRIND IN DETAINED BELARUSIAN COURIER CASE 
 
REF: VILNIUS 732 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Alexander Titolo for reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.  (C) The GOL is keen to resolve the case of a Belarusian 
courier detained while carrying undeclared cash for an NGO in 
a manner consistent with its laws, while not undermining its 
own support for democratic change in Belarus.  The GOL is 
focused on two challenges: resolution of the case, and 
disposition of the money.  Both of these issues necessitate a 
large measure of delicate GOL interagency coordination, which 
to this point has not been achieved.  This drama will likely 
rise to the highest levels of the Government, and could drag 
on for some time.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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LEGAL SITUATION 
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¶2.  (C) We met with Anna Gerasimova on July 18 at the 
Embassy.  Gerasimova is a Belarusian courier for the 
International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) who was 
detained on July 8 by Lithuanian Border Police at the 
Lithuania-Belarus border while carrying US$25,000 in 
undeclared funds (reftel).  After Gerasimova had spent 
several days in jail, GOL authorities agreed to release her 
into the custody of her court-appointed attorney.  She had 
just come from a brief court hearing at which she was 
required to confirm the authenticity of the original 
statement she gave to investigators.  The next step in the 
legal process will be a trial currently slated for August 9. 
She said that from what she has been told by GOL officials, 
she expects the court to impose a fine  (which would imply a 
conviction), but not imprisonment. 
 
¶3.  (C) MFA Undersecretary Albinas Januska on July 19 assured 
CDA that Gerasimova will not need to serve any additional 
jail time.  Januska stated that the MFA was engaged in 
conversations with the prosecutor's office with the goal of 
finding a solution obviating the need for a trial.  He said 
that the issue has the attention of the highest levels of the 
Government, and that the MFA was waiting for Prime Minister 
Brazauskas to return from vacation on August 1 to help settle 
the interagency deadlock.  Januksa predicted that this case 
could drag on "into the autumn." 
 
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DISPOSITION OF THE MONEY 
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¶4.  (C) Januska said that the Financial Crimes investigators 
transferred the seized funds to the government treasury, in 
accordance with Lithuanian law.  He stated that the MFA fully 
understands that the money comes from USAID, and is working 
within the GOL to see how they can return it to IREX or the 
USG.  However, the MFA does not have the authority to simply 
disburse US$25,000.  Januska said the MFA is trying to 
convince the Ministry of Finance to appropriate US$25,000 to 
replace the seized funds.  He said this issue may also 
require a decision from the Prime Minister. 
 
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CLARIFICATION OF CHAIN OF EVENTS 
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¶5.  (C) Gerasimova told us that, contrary to prior reports, 
she had the money on her person, not hidden in the car. As 
such, the Lithuanians saw no reason to hold the other two 
individuals traveling with her, who claimed no knowledge of 
the money. They both returned to Belarus without incident. 
 
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MINSK REGIME AWARE OF ARREST 
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¶6.  (C) Gerasimova said that the Lithuanian investigators 
contacted their Belarusian counterparts the morning after her 
arrest, disregarding her request not to. She said that the 
Lithuanians seem to have gotten the message since then that 
their own Government did not want to draw attention to the 
case, and are now saying nothing to the Belarusian Embassy in 
Vilnius beyond the fact that she is involved in legal 
proceedings here.  Gerasimova told us that the GOL is 
presently in contact with Belarusian law enforcement 
institutions in order to confirm that she does not have a 
criminal history in Belarus.  She described this as a 
necessary step in preparing for her trial according to 
Lithuanian law. 
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GERASIMOVA'S FUTURE 
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¶7. (C) Gerasimova said she is concerned that if she is 
convicted and the records of the case are made public, she 
would face harassment or worse from the Government of Belarus 
once they connect the dots from her to IREX.  She believes 
that if the charges are dismissed, the GOB will have no 
reason and no excuse to pay extra attention to her upon her 
return.  She said she intends to return to Belarus after her 
situation in Lithuania is resolved. 
 
¶8.  (C) Januska opined that Gerasimova should not return to 
Belarus, but rather apply for asylum in Lithuania.  CDA 
informed him that she had every intention of returning to 
Belarus, as she told us in our meeting.  He expressed alarm 
at this notion.  Januska suggested that the GOL and the USG 
consult with their respective missions in Minsk to ensure 
that it will be safe for her to return, and revisit the issue 
in the future. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶9.  (C) Januska's assessment that no swift resolution is in 
the offing indicates that the GOL's interagency has not yet 
found a solution that meets its dual needs to uphold the law 
and prevent a diplomatic mess.  We still believe the GOL will 
move forward in resolving this case, mainly because the MFA, 
and the GOL in general, stands to lose credibility as a 
regional advocate of democracy if the Minsk regime is able to 
manipulate Gerasimova's situation to its own advantage.  We 
will continue to work through the MFA to ensure that the 
varied USG interests at stake in this case are protected. 
Kelly