McDonald's linked to crackdown in Belarus
Saturday 14 May 2011
McDonald's has been accused of turning a blind eye to gross human rights violations in Belarus after evidence from the global fast-food chain was used by prosecutors in the trials of pro-democracy activists.
Scores of anti-government protesters, including five former presidential candidates who ran against strongman Alexander Lukashenko last year, are being hauled before courts in one of the worst crackdowns in the quasi-Soviet state in recent years.
The list of charges revolves around accusations that pro-democracy campaigners, who on 19 December protested against election results instigated a "mass riot". The broadly peaceful protest, attended by an estimated 300,000 people, was crushed by riot police and followed by mass arrests – roundly condemned by human rights groups, the EU and the United States.
Copies of indictments obtained by The Independent show that among the charges is the allegation that protesters caused 8.4m roubles (£1,680) of damage to a McDonald's branch which had to close. Campaigners say the figure must have been provided by McDonald's which has kept silent on the crackdown. One of the indictments for ex-presidential candidate Dmitri Uss lists organisations disrupted "as a result of criminal actions" He is on trial with fellow presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich, both facing 15-year jail terms for allegedly inciting an armed "mob" to damage property and "seize the government building".
Legal sources in Minsk say similar allegations are being used in the trials of ex-presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and his journalist wife Irina Khalip. She has been told her son may be put in an orphanage if she is found guilty. Mr Sannikov faces 15 years in jail and his wife faceslesser charges of "organising actions disrupting social order".
Irina Bogdanova, Mr Sannikov's sister, said McDonald's should condemn the use of their evidence.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said: "The restaurant's security team were very concerned about the safety and security of both our customers and staff... We provided information in response to an official inquiry.".
Mike Harris, from the Index on Censorship, said that by keeping their heads down during the Soviet-style show trials, McDonalds was doing itself no favours. "It's not clear why any Western firm would invest where the rule of law is entirely arbitrary," he said.
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake: How you can help victims of the Kathmandu disaster
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: The photo of a tree that proves the Tories have an image problem
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...