Leak: Belarus authorities to involve army in ‘protecting facilities’ if protests resume

Armed soldiers on guard at office of Belarusian TV and Radio Company. Minsk, August 2020. Photo: Belsat

Belarusian Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakou has asked the Defence Ministry to place some military forces at their disposal if ‘mass riots’ continue, blogger Stsyapan Putsila reports. His Telegram channel which the Belarusian authorities consider to be ‘extremist’ published a corresponding document signed by Kubrakou.

BYPOL, a campaign created by opposition-minded people who earlier belonged to Belarusian uniformed services, confirms the authenticity of the document.

In the letter which was allegedly sent it to Defence Minister Viktar Khrenin, Ivan Kubrakou says they might need 3,725 servicemen for ‘protecting facilities’. At least 1,360 persons (including 100 representatives of the Special Operations Forces) are to be sent to Minsk. In the event of imposing emergency rule in the Belarusian capital city, their number may increase to 2,680.

The document does not mention the feasibility of throwing Defence Ministry troops at dispersing rallies; however, their involvement in the protection of facilities will reportedly allow the Interior Ministry to focus on quelling the would-be protests.

In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, the military were engaged in securing a number of facilities, e.g. Minsk Hero City Stele, the Government House, the Palace of Independence, etc.

Last week, Alyaksandr Lukashenka reiterated that the Belarusian military would have to defend the country and fight ‘from from the inside’.

BYPOL claims existence of military unit tasked with neutralising Lukashenka’s rivals abroad

In early March, Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya suggested in an interview that Lukashenka would stop at nothing in order to retain power. “If he needs it, he will get a million people shot,” she added.

It should be noted that captain Raman Haurylau and warrant officer Arseny Halitsyn who serve in military unit Nr 89417 (special operations forces) in the town of Maryina Horka were involved in the murder of Henadz Shutau in the course of post-election protests in Brest on August, 11. However, the court recognised them as victims while the deceased Shutau and witness Alyaksandr Kardzyukou were found guilty.

In late February, Aleh Voinau, Head of the MoD International Military Cooperation Department and the minister’s aide, told the military attaches accredited at the Defence Ministry that the Belarusian side had to ‘reassess the military and political situation’ on the back of certain countries’ ‘politicised’ reaction to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus. Certain countries’ reaction to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Belarus was ‘politicised’, which failed to contribute to building ‘friendly relations’, he said.

As reported earlier, Defence Minister Viktar Khrenin delivered a stern warning to those who were taking to the streets amid post-election protests in mid August: “If order and peace are disturbed, the army, not the police, will be dealing with you!”

Protests-linked murder in Brest: Dead man found guilty, witness gets 10 years in jail, shooter declared victim