Since January, coordinators of illegal migration channels have become active in Belarus. As recent experience shows, the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) is too slow to tackle the challenge. Two residents of Homiel detected an illegal way of transporting people into the EU; the State Border Committee opened several criminal cases while the KGB failed to lift a finger.
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On the Internet one can find everything: friends, talkers, part-time jobs. In early February, Homiel activist Vital Yurchanka, who is known for his fighting ‘parasite’ law, received an offer to make some extra money on ‘tourism’. He was contacted on web by a foreigner from Turkey who sent messages with the help of an interpreter. But ‘tourism’ turned out to be a cover for Kurdish migrants from Iraq.
“The case was the Kurds who were going to come to Belarus from Turkey as guests, on the official basis. Under Belarus’s law, they may stay here for up to 5 days as tourists, without visas. The task was to organize their smuggling to Poland, and from Poland to Germany,” says Yurchanka.
But instead of getting involved in shady affairs, Vital decided to fulfil his civic duty. The case smelled of international terrorism. Vital wrote to the foreigners that he needed time to think of the offer. He asked his friend, independent journalist Kastus Zhukouski, for help. The freelance reporter started his own journalistic investigation to see whether the Belarusian law enforcers properly do their job.
“On their website, I read that it is the KGB that is responsible for illegal migration. Half an hour later, we visited their regional department. I told them about the situation, Vital Yurchanka filed a report,” Zhukouski says.
Homiel counterintelligence officers were apparently uninterested in the wakeup call information from the pro-opposition duo. No swift action, just ‘please wait’.
“There might have been terrorists, and no one responded. Total inaction and omission. No one cared. I offered them to use my account for further correspondence, but nobody seized on the idea. After listening our story out, they just said: Ok, we will contact you,” Yurchanka says.
Vital was asked again to meet the Turkish guest at Minsk Airport and help in his business.
“I told the KGB that the smugglers were getting in touch and asked what I should do. „But 15 days had not passed yet since your report, so wait for our response!” they answered. It was very strange,” Zhukouski stresses.
As the Committee’s central department also failed to give any proper response, the activist and the journalist reported the case to the State Border Committee, which took immediate action. The investigation is still in progress, and Belsat TV cannot go into details. But one thing is clear – it is the indifferent Homiel residents and border guards who prevented a crime group from establishing an illegal migration channel through the Belarusian-Polish border. Unfortunately, instead of performing their direct duties, the Belarusian KGB continues to fight opposition and people who are calling for abolishing the so-called tax on social parasites.
Yaraslau Stseshyk/MS, Belsat