New Criminal Case: Criminal Charges against Head of Disabled Afghanistan War Veterans’ Organization
On October 22 representatives of the law-enforcing bodies sealed Zhodzina office of Association of Disabled Veterans of Afghanistan War. On October 23 the office was searched. The police seized about 300 copies of Narodnaya Volia newspaper, computer equipment and 300 fake dollars. The search was carried out in the framework of the criminal case against Alexander Kamarouski, chairperson of Association of Disabled Veterans of Afghanistan War. The proceedings against Kamarouski were instigated when in the night of October 21-22 was crossing the Belarus—Poland border, and the customs officers found 500 fake dollars with him. The leader of the disabled Afghanistan war veterans was traveling to Warsaw to meet with representatives of partner organizations. At Brest customs he was shocked when customs officers found 500 fake dollars in his cap. Brest customs and police officers detained him and organized a non-stop interrogation which lasted for many hours.
Alexander Kamarouski is a retired lieutenant colonel, veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Twenty years ago he founded an Association of Disabled Veterans of the Afghanistan War. He calls the incident a mere provocation. He explained to RFE/RL: “I published two articles in the oppositional Narodnaya Volia newspaper. I think that was the reason. In addition, I am a man of principle, an independent commander in the movement of Afghanistan veterans”.
In the articles published by Narodnaya Volia and republished by several web-sites Mr. Kamarouski criticizes the government and president Alexander Lukashenka. In particular, the author wrote that he planned to create an opposition political party on the basis of veterans’ movement.
In Zhodzina Alexander Kamarouski openly cooperates with the local opposition activists. For example, in August Afghanistan veterans participated in the camp of pro-democratic youth that was dispersed by police. Pavel Krasouski, youth activist from Zhodzina, comments the situation: “I also consider that a provocation by the Belarusian special services. Such a respected person could not have fake dollars and could not try to take them through the border. He always helps young people of the town, he helps senior citizens and the unemployed”.
Human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovic: “We are concerned about very strange pattern in the cases of Zhodzina activists. Mr. Kamarouski is the head of Association of Disabled Afghanistan War Veterans. Paval Krasouski is a member of the NGO. When the police detained Paval and accused him of complicacy in Vitebsk explosions and even murders, Mr. Kamarouski stood out in his defense. In about a week the police find fake dollars that allegedly belong to Kamarouski. I don’t think this pattern is incidental. Fake dollars have already been used in other politically-motivated cases. For example, the case of Mikhail Marynich, when the former diplomat was suspected of keeping a large amount of fake dollars. However, expert examination did not confirm the suspicion. Police in the former Soviet Union countries quite often uses fake dollars or drugs in order to detain people. Obviously, the criminal case against Alexander Kamarouski is not accidental”.