As the master, so his servants: Police swear to deter Maidan in Belarus (video)

The country’s policemen are celebrating a professional holiday but their declamations and speeches have touched on other themes. Promising to properly investigate crimes, they have also made it clear they are prepared to eliminate political conflicts if they break out. Whom and what do Belarusian police really protect?

As the incumbent Minister of Interior, Ihar Shunevich, was born in Ukraine, his statement that a Maidan is impossible in Belarus has particularly relevance. Moreover, his specific proposals were completely out of the picture.

English subs:

{movie}In Focus, 04.04.2014: Police swear to deter Maidan in Belarus (ENG subs)|right|15158{/movie}

IHAR SHUNEVICH, Minister of Interior

‘We are ready to fulfil any order to prevent possible escalating any conflict or aggravating the situation. All means, wills and skills are at our disposal.’ Belarusian legislation plays into their hands well: recently MPs have introduced amendments to the martial law, which will broaden police powers. This year, police officer wages have been budgeted to increase by 21 %. The expense will be steep because Belarus has one of the highest policemen-per-capita ratios in the world. But quantity doesn’t always mean quality: for years Belarus’s police have performed functions outside their normal purview.

MECHYSLAU HRYB, Lieutenant General of militia:

‘Since the 1996 referendum, policemen have been engaged in assisting in achieving someone’s political goals, which results in beating and torturing the regime’s opponents.’

And rarely does anyone bear responsibility for these offenses. Both oppositionists and ordinary people are victimized.

ALEH HAYDUKEVICH, former police officer:

‘From my perspective, the whole system is not vicious, it is the particular individuals who are to blame, who should be heavily punished, because a police officer must set the example to all the citizens.’

Evidently, Belarusians disagree: according to the latest survey, only 30% Belarusians have faith in police.

ANATOL LIABEDZKA, United Civic Party:

‘In my opinion, most policemen would be with people if they had a choice. Unfortunately, they have no choice today and have to subject to orders remaining cogs in the state machine.’

Do Belarusians agree with the politician?


‘They protect the authorities and the main man’

‘They protect the people of Belarus’

‘Everyone should be proud of the Belarusian police. I think this holiday is very important’

‘They might be protecting the head of state and his goals’.

But their duties are different with a capital D.


‘They should obey the law, only law, not instructions and orders from above. If police are guided by the principle ‘police for people’ their image will be improved and confidence will increase.’

But as it stands, the people have no way to hold police to account, as the head of state directs their actions. Lukashenka’s edicts are regarded as orders and replace any law.

Siarhei Skulavets,

See also