Who are former law enforcers persecuted for speaking out against Lukashenka
Belarus can be described as a police state. The main function of the law enforcement bodies over the past two years has been to prevent and suppress all protest activities and manifestations in the country. At the same time, control over law enforcers has also increased in order to prevent them from supporting the democratic movement in Belarus.
Last May Lukashenka stripped of military and special ranks more than 80 former officers of law enforcement bodies, who joined the independent association of security forces ByPOL or supported protests. Viasna collected names of former law enforcement and military officers who spoke out against Lukashenka's regime and who are persecuted by the state. Most of them are recognized as political prisoners.
Former investigators accused of terrorism for participation in protests
Four former investigators are currently behind bars for political reasons.
Political prisoner Yauhen Yushkevich is a former investigator who resigned in 2017. In 2020, he initiated the bychange.me project to help educate and retrain law enforcement officers, officials, and other Belarusian citizens who lost their jobs because of their political views.He is accused of preparing for an act of terrorism (Article 289 of the Criminal Code), participating in riots (Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code), and participating in actions that grossly violate public order (Article 342 of the Criminal Code).
Political prisoner Mikita Starazhenka is a former investigator who resigned after the election of 2020 as a sign of protest.On May 4, 2021, Starazhenka, like other security officers who resigned in protest, was stripped of his rank of First lieutenant of justice in the reserve by Lukashenka. He is charged with inciting hatred by a group of persons under Part 3 Article 130 of the Criminal Code.
Political prisoner Yahor Viarshynin is a former investigator who resigned in 2019. He was doing sports analytics and planned to go into IT. On October 8, 2021, the Centraĺny District Court of Minsk sentenced Viarshynin to two years in a general-security penal colony, finding him guilty under Part 1 of Art. 342 of the Criminal Code for grossly violating public order.
Political prisoner Aliaksei Siankou is a retired colonel of justice, he worked with the Investigative Committee from 2012 to 2021. Aliaksei was sentenced to two years in a penal colony under Article 342 of the Criminal Code for group actions that grossly violate public order. He was found guilty of taking part in two rallies on August 16 and 23, 2020, that grossly violated public order and led to disruption of transport. In particular, he clapped his hands and shouted slogans. Aliaksei is recognized as a political prisoner.
Police officers persecuted: from home confinement to imprisoning
Political prisoner Dzmitry Kulakouski used to be the head of the criminal investigation department of the Zavodski District Police Department of Minsk. After the election, he openly stated that he did not support government policy and resigned.He was charged with insulting a government official (Article 369 of the Criminal Code). On December 22, 2021, he was sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open-type penitentiary.
Former political prisoner Maksim Klimovich is a former riot police officer.He decided to quit immediately after the crackdown following the 2010 Presidential election. However, it took him 2 years to actually resign. In the early summer of 2021, he left for Poland but had to return. A few days after his return, Maksim was arrested. Propaganda telegram channels presented information about his detention as a consequence of his dismissal in protest from the civil service in 2020 saying that “He burned his warrant card and went on a mass riot”. On November 2, 2021, the court of the Maskoŭski district of Minsk found Klimovich guilty under Article 342 of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to three years of restricted freedom under home confinement. Having spent two and a half months in custody, he was released.
Political prisoner Andrei Garun is a former law enforcement officer. Before his arrest, he worked with EPAM, an IT company.Andrei was detained in October 2021 under Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (incitement of social hatred) for leaking information about law enforcement officers to Telegram channels “Punishers of Belarus” and “Black book of Belarus”, which published information about the regime's henchmen from the law enforcement bodies.
Piotr Butsko is a former lieutenant colonel in the reserve. He served in the police for more than 20 years. At the end of 2020, he served 32 days of administrative arrest for participating in protest rallies. In May 2021, Lukashenka stripped him of his rank. The Lida district court sentenced Butsko to six years of imprisonment in a general-regime penal colony under part 3 of article 426 of the Criminal Code (abuse of power).
Yegor Yemelyanov is a former policeman, who served in the police for 17 years. In August 2020, he refused to participate in the crackdown on protests in Navapolack and resigned from the police. After he gave several interviews in May 2021, he was arrested and placed in a detention center for 40 days. There he was punished with solitary confinement.
Human rights defenders also know about former traffic police chief Siarhei Maslouski, who was detained at one of the rallies in 2020 and spent about a month in administrative detention.
Former prosecutors facing charges of inciting hatred
Political prisoner Yauhen Babak is a former assistant prosecutor of the Pieršamajski district of Minsk. He is known for launching in August 2020 an investigation into the people in traffic police uniforms who beat up bikers on the night of August 11. The investigation did not bring any results, and Babak resigned. It is known that he became a suspect in a criminal case of group actions that grossly violate public order (Article 342 of the Criminal Code) and incitement to hatred (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Yauhen's trial began on March 11, hearings are held in private.
Aleh Yermakou used to be a former senior assistant prosecutor of the Maskoŭski district of Minsk. He was detained for "leaking personal data" to the Nexta Telegram channel and charged with inciting social hatred (Part 1 Article 130 of the Criminal Code).
The military persecuted for treason
Political prisoner Mikalai Kazlou is a former military officer and leader of the oppositional United Civic Party. In 2008, as a senior investigator for major crimes in the rank of lieutenant colonel, Mikalai arrested the chairman of the election commission, catching him ballot stuffing. When the case was dropped, Kazlou resigned from the police in protest and passed all information about the electoral fraud to the media.On August 6, 2021, Mikalai was sentenced to three months in prison under Part 1 of Art. 407 of the Criminal Code for disclosing investigation information on the “Coordination Council case”. He was also stripped of his rank by Lukashenka's decree.
Former political prisoner Siarhei Shpak is a retired lieutenant colonel, who took part in the video address of the retired officers to the Belarusian military.Like eight dozen other officers, he was deprived of his military rank by Lukashenka's decree. Siarhei Shpak had 28 years of service. Shpak was arrested under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code during a wave of searches on July 16, 2021. He was later sentenced to three years of home confinement and released in court.
Political prisoner Dzianis Urad held the position of special liaison officer of the Armed Forces’ General Staff until March 15, 2021. According to state-owned media, on March 14, Urad photographed a secret letter from the Minister of Internal Affairs to the Minister of Defense, which authorized the involvement of the Armed Forces in law enforcement activities, and sent a copy to a “polish Telegram channel”, which is most likely referring to a popular Nexta channel. The Supreme Court sentenced Dzianis Urad to 18 years in a medium-security penal colony, finding him guilty of high treason (Part 2 of Article 356 of the Criminal Code) and deprived him of the rank of captain. The trial was held in private. The verdict is final and not subject to appeal.
Dzmitryi Samsonau is a lieutenant colonel of military intelligence of the Main Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense. His office, among other things, has access to materials obtained by the KGB, including wiretaps. He was sentenced to 19 years in prison under three articles of the Criminal Code: Part 1 of Art. 356 (High treason), Part 1 of Art. 375 (Deliberate disclosure of official secrets), and Part 2 of Art. 235 (Money laundering). The trial lasted three months and was kept in private. Whether this case is connected with political events is unknown.
Aliaksei Khralovich used to be a lieutenant colonel of the KGB. Khralovich participated in forwarding call records of Lukashenka's press secretary Natallia Eismant's where she talks to various officials to the Nexta Telegram channel in November 2020. It was in these calls that the circumstances of Raman Bandarenka's death, which caused a great public outcry, were discussed. He faces 10 to 20 years in jail under Part 2 of Art. 356 of the Criminal Code (High treason committed by an official holding a responsible position, or a person covered by military status). The trial has started on March 21 and is held in private.