No Belarusians charged with mercenary service in Ukraine – prosecutor general

No criminal cases have so far been opened against citizens of Belarus for fighting for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics or Ukraine, Prosecutor General Aliaksandr Kaniuk told news agency BelaPAN on Friday.

No one in Belarus has been convicted of war crimes, including mercenary service, in Ukraine, Mr Kaniuk said. If law-enforcement agencies find evidence of such offenses, criminal proceedings will be instituted and the suspects will be put on trial, he said.

He promised to inform the media if someone was charged with this offense.

Belarusians are known to be fighting on either side of the conflict:

The participation of Belarusians in the hostilities in Ukraine on any side of the conflict is criminally liable, Chairman of the State Security Committee (KGB) of Belarus Valery Vakulchyk said in October, 2014.

“Naturally, there is responsibility for mercenarism. It does not matter on which side these Belarusians fight. These matters are regulated by our laws. A decision will be made if such incidents are revealed and proved,” the KGB chief said. 

Only one case of persecuting a person who allegedly participated in military actions in Donbas went public: Zmitser Paloyka, a resident of the Belarusian city of Baranavichy, was arrested when he was going on a train to Belarus. The only reason for detention was his name on ‘the battalion ‘Donbas’ list published by separatists on the Internet. After questioning Zmitser, formally sentenced for using bad language in public, spent 10 days in a predetention centre.

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