The Belarusian government is taking a 15% levy on donations made by Aberdonians for children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
A new report has revealed that money transferred from the city council’s Gomel Trust is being taken at a 15% rate by the Belarusian authorities as a “local tax”.
The trust was established in 1991 to assist with “medical, nutritional, social and spiritual problems” in the former Soviet state’s second largest city.
It receives annual funding of £22,000 from the council’s common good fund.
Gomel, which is twinned with Aberdeen, was badly affected by radiation from the 1986 disaster in neighbouring Ukraine.
Now, a report to the council’s finance committee next week shows that when money is transferred electronically from the charitable trust the Belarusian government takes a 15% cut.
Previously members of the trust travelled to Belarus with money on their person, raising safety concerns.
In June this year, a member of the trust visited the country with £2,000 and three electronic transfers of money were carried out the next month.
Now the trust’s vice chairman, Councillor Alan Donnelly, said the trust will significantly increase the amount of money it sends electronically.
He said: “It is a safe country but the perception has been that it isn’t so that’s why we have decided to send more money through bank transfer.
“They take 15%, which is a fair chunk, but overall the projects that are done in the country mean that it’s definitely worthwhile.”
Belarus has been ruled since 1994 by Alexander Lukashenko, and is the only country in Europe that retains the death
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said that despite the trust’s good work in Gomel there were “serious questions” to be answered.
He said: “I think there is legitimate questions in the fact that not only are people going across there with significant amounts of money but that we are now having to put money into what is essentially a dictatorship from funds meant to help the people of Aberdeen.”