Propagandist Tur threatened to confiscate property from about 1,000 Belarusians. How to protect yourself?

The literary character Ostap Bender knew 400 relatively honest ways to take money from people. The state, however, has an unlimited arsenal of such methods because it holds the power of legislation. Confiscation of property is a significant blow to an opponent. If the state wants, it will take it.

How can the state deprive someone of their property?

It is important to distinguish between the ways property can be seized. They can be categorized into three types: confiscation, arrest, and seizure. The concept of seizure is broader, as it encompasses the definitions of confiscation and arrest even in normative legal acts. Nevertheless, we will use the terminology of the legislator.

Confiscation is a criminal law measure involving the forced, uncompensated seizure and transfer of all or part of a person’s property to the state if they have committed a crime. Currently, only special confiscation is provided for in Belarus, i.e., the seizure of instruments, items, and means used to commit a crime. For example, weapons, mobile communication devices, and vehicles are often confiscated in criminal proceedings.

Arrest is the seizure of property to ensure compensation for damage caused by a crime or to recover income obtained illegally. Arrest is imposed on the accused's property by an order from the criminal prosecution authority. For instance, seized property is used to compensate for the victim’s claim.

Seizure is the forced taking of property rights objects for public necessity in favor of the Republic of Belarus (as defined by the legislator). The basis for seizing property rights objects is the commission of hostile actions against the Republic of Belarus or its legal and/or natural persons. What constitutes hostile actions is not defined in the law "On Seizure of Property," indicating the state’s unlimited capabilities in this matter. The decision to seize property rights objects is made by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. After such a decision is made, the State Property Committee applies to the economic court of Minsk for the seizure of property rights objects. The court's decision is subject to immediate execution and can be appealed (protested) as established by procedural legislation. Seized property rights objects become the property of the Republic of Belarus.

How to protect yourself from property deprivation?

There is only one way — timely alienation of property to trusted persons. If emergency departure from Belarus is necessary, it is best to issue a power of attorney with the right to manage the property.

Can the state arrest my only housing?

It is a common stereotype that it cannot. However, the law contains only one restriction — residential houses, apartments, or their parts are not subject to arrest if the person whose property is being arrested and their family live there permanently. Therefore, if the entire family leaves, the property can be taken.

Can the state sell housing with registered residents?

Yes, and currently, such practice exists. After purchase, the new owner can “deregister” the former owner and their family members through the court.

What advice can be given to those buying seized housing?

We strongly discourage doing so. The current procedure for seizing property cannot be called lawful. Property seized as a result of political repression is subject to return to the former owner according to international standards. One principle applies here: if the repressed person’s property is preserved, it must be returned. It does not matter how many owners have changed; the last owner will be unlucky. Compensation for the bona fide buyer may not be provided. The interests of the repressed person are prioritized.

How can you protect yourself when buying housing?

Check the property’s history.

How will property seized for political reasons be identified?

According to the register of property of victims of political repression. Such a register is already being maintained.
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