Nine defendants in ‘anti-Lukashenka coup case’: KGB gives new names, seeks extradition

Nine people have been charged with ‘conspiracy or other actions committed for the purpose of seizing state power’ (Article 357-1 of the Criminal Code), state-run news agency BelTA reports with reference to Andrey Yarash, Spokesman for the Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB).

According to him, it is lawyer Yury Zyankovich, politician Ryhor Kastusiou, political analyst Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Zyankovich’s assistant Volha Halubovich, former counter terrorism officer Ihar Makar, psychiatrist Dzmitry Shchyhelski, former OMON officer Pavel Kulazhanka, scientist Alyaksandr Perapechka, activist Vital Makaranka who were engaged in the widely reported coup attempt.

Zyankovich, Kastusiou, Fyaduta, Halubovich are now being held in the notorious Amerykanka, the KGB pre-trial detention centre in Minsk. If found guilty under this article, the defendants may be sentenced to up to 12 years of imprisonment. Makar, Shchyhelski, Kulazhanka, Perapechka and Makaranka are currently outside Belarus; KGB investigators have sent requests for their being extradited to the countries of their stay.

It is not reported whether and what proofs were presented to foreign partners.

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On April 17, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Belarusian opposition activists Alyaksandr Fyaduta, Ryhor Kastusiou, and Yury Zyankovich who were arrested in Belarus and Russia, had been allegedly preparing a coup d’etat and an attempt on him with the help of American special services. This information was then confirmed by the KGB of Belarus and the FSB of Russia. According to intelligence agencies, Zyankovich and Fyaduta consulted with representatives of the United States and Poland and planned to carry out a coup in Minsk on May 9. Lukashenka also claims that the ‘FBI or CIA’ and their accomplices were going to capture one or two children of him and put them in a cellar located in Homiel region.

After the coup d’etat, the conspirators and the opposition intended to ask for NATO troops to enter Belarus, which could become a springboard for an attack on Russia, Lukashenka believes.

“They had to supposedly come to power here for a day and declare that they were in power. To do what? To ask for NATO troops to enter the territory of Belarus and put them on the eastern border near Smolensk. It was a springboard – I always told you – to attack Russia. It was the first step,” he said during a visit to Homiel region in late April.

When delivering his address to the Federal Assembly, Russian leader Vladimir Putin slammed ‘the collective West’ for their allegedly turning blind eye to the attempted assassination of Lukashenka. In turn, the United States denied any involvement in the reported assassination attempt on Lukashenka. Independent experts consider the attempted ‘military coup’ a staged and provocative act by Belarusian special services.

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