How Lukashenka’s bagmen bypass sanctions

Aliaksandr Shatrou (Alexander Shatrov), co-founder of Synesis, made a fuss earlier with his political comments.

For example, after Freedom Day 2017, he criticized the protesters detained by the police. He later compared the protests to drug trafficking. Here is how Aliaksandr Shatrou put it:

“It’ll be strange if you start shouting that if drugs are legalized in America, then you don’t understand why you are treated like that here. That is, you understand the consequences, you go and do. If consequences suddenly come, don’t accept it. Here’s the same thing. People went to the demonstration. It wasn’t sanctioned. There’s a law that states what’s possible and what isn’t. What did they expect?”

In addition, the company banned using the Belarusian language in internal work chats. This is what the co-founder of Synesis Aliaksandr Shatrou said:

«He knows Russian, but uses Belarusian. I’m categorically against such moments. That is, it creates inconvenience to everyone who doesn’t know this language.»

Aliaksandr Shatrou (Alexander Shatrov) /

The product for which the company came under restrictions is called Kipod, a cloud platform for monitoring public safety.

Synesis became the technical operator for the Republican Public Safety Monitoring System in 2018.

How this happened is unknown. The open tender was cancelled due to the fact that only one candidate applied for it, the company 24×7 Panaptes, owned by Synesis. Further selection procedure was closed to the public.

Then, the Council of Ministers ordered a number of facilities to connect to the Synesis system, and in addition – to pay Synesis a very high monthly rate of 100 rubles per camera.

Now Synesis is 100% owned by Aliaksandr Shatrou. But this happened quite recently, two weeks after the imposition of another round of EU sanctions against this company. Until then, company shares belonged to Energo-Oil-Invest and the wife of Energo-Oil’s main beneficiary, Ina Aleksina (Inna Oleksina).

They joined Synesis in 2016, seven months before the decree on the Republican Monitoring System was adopted. That is, it may seem that the investment was specifically aimed at obtaining an order to create a national surveillance system. IT specialist Syarhei Laurynenka (Sergei Lavrinenko) believes that Synesis is an exception:

“The Belarusian IT sector differs in that it is mostly export-oriented. More than 95% of all services it produces go to countries outside Belarus. Belarusian projects in companies are a rarity. Therefore, indeed, companies that have large Belarusian customers, large Belarusian orders, rather, stand out from the crowd. But for those who work for the Belarusian market, this is, so to speak, a significant preference.»

Aliaksandr Shatrou says that his company receives money not from the Interior Ministry, but from subscribers, and on this basis plans to appeal against the EU sanctions. And very few cameras have been connected yet. Probably, to make it easier for him to appeal the sanctions, Shatrou got rid of the partnership with Aliaksei Aleksin’s (Alexey Oleksin) structures on paper.

Aleksin became known to the general public thanks to Tabakerka (Snuffbox), the only private network of the capital’s kiosks.

Tabakerka (Snuffbox)

Ten years ago, Minsk authorities banned kiosks in the city, citing, among other things, that they were unsightly. The company, which was subsequently given a monopoly on them, is called Energo-Oil. Now – Energo-Oil-Invest. This is the same company that owned Synesis before the sanctions were imposed. Anatol Shumchanka (Anatoly Shumchenko), chairman of the Perspectives NGO, which unites individual entrepreneurs, noted that the state behaves strangely:

“The state is behaving strangely, since in this case it should give everyone equal opportunities, but instead, based on the answers that kiosks are impractical for entrepreneurs, we conclude that for the state there are mere mortal entrepreneurs, and not simple entrepreneurs who have special preferences ”.

In early 2021, Energo-Oil-Invest also underwent a sudden change of ownership. January 12 Aliaksei Aleksin.

The state register of legal entities names Energo-Oil as the predecessor of Energo-Oil-Invest, formerly called Triple-Energo and part of Yuri Chizh’s holding. Aleksin took charge of Triple-Energo in 2001. Prior to that, he was the curator of petroleum products trade at Belvneshtorginvest, part of the Presidential Affairs Management (PAM).

Under Aleksin, Triple-Energo was one of the few private companies whom the authorities allowed to process cheap Russian oil at Belarusian refineries, and then export oil products made from it. At the beginning of the last decade, this company, according to media reports, also illegally re-exported Russian oil products, disguising them as solvents, thinners, and biodiesel. According to the daily, other companies that were part of Triple at the time did the same: Neonafta and Belneftegaz.

The full text of the investigation is available in pdf, mobi, epub formats.