The General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus opened a new criminal case against Pavel Latushko, informs BelTA with reference to the supervisory authority. He is accused of abuse of office (part 3 of Art. 426 of the Criminal Code).
The Prosecutor General’s Office explained that Pavel Latushko, while serving as Minister of Culture of Belarus, “in 2012, out of selfish and other personal interest, deliberately instructed subordinate employees to include them in the thematic film production plan for 2012-2013”. Thus, he “exceeded his rights and powers,” according to the department.
According to the prosecutor’s office, at that moment Latushko “reliably knew about the absence of legal grounds for financing a number of obviously unclaimed film projects from the budget.”
On the basis of the minister’s order, the Cinematography Department of the Ministry of Culture signed contracts with filmmakers and illegally financed the production of a number of “deliberately unclaimed” films.
“The illegal actions of Pavel Latushko entailed causing substantial harm to state and public interests, as well as grave consequences in the form of causing damage to the state on an especially large scale,” the supervisory authority believes.
The investigation of the criminal case was entrusted to the central office of the Investigative Committee of Belarus. Under the incriminated article of the Criminal Code, Latushko faces up to 10 years in prison.
Earlier, a case was opened against Latushko under Part 3 of Art. 289 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (an act of terrorism committed by an organized group) and Art. 382 of the Criminal Code (unauthorized assignment of the title or power of an official). Minsk previously turned to Warsaw with a request to extradite Latushko, who is in Poland, but the request was denied.
Pavel Latushko in 2002-2008 was the Ambassador of Belarus to Poland, from 2009 to 2012 he was the Minister of Culture of Belarus. In 2012–2019, he served as the Ambassador of Belarus to France, and since 2013, he has worked concurrently as Ambassador to Spain and Portugal. Then Latushko headed the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater in Minsk.
Pavel Latushko was fired from the theater after he condemned the brutality of the security forces during the dispersal of protests after the presidential elections in August 2020 and called for a legal assessment of their actions. Latushko joined the Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition and was elected to its presidium.
In September 2020, Latushko left for Poland for an economic forum. He later stated that he was under pressure from the KGB officers. They forced him to stay abroad, threatening to initiate a criminal case. After Latushko joined the Coordination Council, Lukashenka said that he “crossed the red line” and “will answer according to the law.”