Andrei Molchan, a former officer of the Belarusian KGB, claims he has documents confirming the facts of state-controlled smuggling petroleum products from Belarus to Western Europe. As reported earlier, he handed these documents to Sveriges Radio (Swedish Radio).
The man asked for political asylum in Sweden, but his application was turned down. SÄPO, the Security Service, believes that Molchan may pose a threat to Sweden as a security service agent from Russia’s satellite country. A Swedish court ordered to deport him. Andrei Molchan agreed to give an exclusive interview to Belsat. He met with our journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva in the Swedish Radio office in Stockholm.
You know, my life was menaced in Belarus. The main reason is my disobedience and reluctance to fulfil orders that contradicted my values and beliefs. And the KGB is a gun, when one is at its point, be sure it will shoot. In 2012 I bought a weekend tour to Sweden, departed and did not return. I had only my personal belongings, I sent the secret documents to my friend in Russia, who then sent them to Stockholm.
You got fired in 2010. What were you doing during two years before leaving for Sweden? Did anyone launch threats against you?
After the sack I worked for a private logistic company. I was threatened because I had the documents. Their main message was: ‘Bring back the documents and we’ll leave you alone.’
Earlier, Andrei Molchan revealed the story of threats to Sveriges journalists Daniel Öhman and Daniel Velasco. Trying to take the documents away from him, KGB officers battered him, broke his nose and his knees, set fire to his car and pushed his girlfriend down the stairs. Indeed, a mark of the nasal fracture is still striking. Molchan also showed a photo of the car after the arson attack, but asked not to publish it so far.
After my leaving for Sweden, unknown people visited my mother and brother in Vitsebsk. Once my younger brother Alyaksandr was in a swimming-pool; there five people approached him in the washroom and began asking about me. Currently, for security reasons I am not in touch with my family, I do not call them. In Stockholm, my acquaintances know me as ‘Andrei from St. Petersburg. I do not tell anyone about my work for the KGB.
Does anyone observe you in Stockholm?
I saw a woman sitting next to the cafe, when I brought documents to the Swedish journalists. Then she walked after me to the entrance of the block. I think they keep an eye on me.
The story began with the so-called Belarusian economic miracle. Working for the KGB, I noticed a flourishing company – too flourishing one. The issue of petroleum products smuggling from Belarus to the EU provided a bombshell effectin 2011-2012, but the supply chain had been set up much earlier. The company in question is located in Vitsebsk Free Economic Zone, it is called Chess-Bel (in Russian – Чесс-Бел). They have several large tanks where gasoline is mixed with a small amount of antiknock agent, which gives Ekolon-370. This is a licensed solvent, not an oil product. A customs duty is not imposed on it being exported. I found out that in 2006 – 2007 Belarus’ budget lost about $2 mln due to evasion of customs duties.
And customs officers noticed it…
On October 19, 2007 customs officers stopped a wagonload of Ekolon-370, the batch was arrested and Vitsebsk customs instituted administrative proceedings for improper declaring and illegal exporting goods from the territory of the Customs Union. This was to be the beginning of a large-scale probe. I had facts and evidence base, I was set to go on. Meanwhile, Chess-Bel appealed to president Lukashenka against the actions of customs officers. Interestingly, but Lukashenka picked up their letter of all the letters the presidential administration received and instructed Deputy Prime Minister Syamashka to tackle the situation. After Syamashka’s letter the KGB ordered to let the case slide.
Did the trial of Chess-Bel over that administrative case take place?
On January 18, 2008, a Vitsebsk court did not find Chess-Bel guilty. The substance from the seized wagon was examined by the Forensic Center of Belarus’ Interior Ministry and by the Forensic Service of the Russian border control in Bryansk. The two examinations showed that ‘Ekolon-370’ was an oil product. And suddenly Chess-Bel presented two examinations by laboratories of the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Justice, which stated that it was not an oil product, i.e. the substance was not customs-declarable. Apparently, the court was also instructed what decision should be taken. The arrested batch was given back to Chess-Bel.
Well, who exactly was pulling the strings and protecting the smugglers?
Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka is providing a cover, he made a personal visit to Chess-Bel. In 2006, Lukashenka awarded Chess-Bel with a diploma of the best exporter. That is, the president concluded that smugglers were the best exporters in Belarus. They have an enourmous support from the authorities. And president Lukashenka always has the last word.
What did you learn about Chess-Bel Director General Mikhail Krautsou in the course of the investigation?
Mikhail Krautsou is on a friendly footing with top officials. The then head of Vitsebsk region convened a meeting on Sunday to please him. I contacted with Krautsou’s minions – close link to the world of crime can be traced. Krautsou might have been a mediator between criminals and the authorities.
Swedish reporters found that the final destination of Chess-Bel was Gunvor, a major oil trader tightly bound to Vladimir Putin’s friend Gennady Timchenko. Moreover, St. Petersburg-based company Chess which has links to criminal underworld is one of Chess-Bel shareholders. Roughly speaking, gangster Petersburd traded with gangster Petersburg through Belarus. Did the Belarusian authorities give their consent to it and get into the act?
That could well be the case. There is a strong flow of oil from Russia to the West; it falls into many ‘streams’ in Belarus, but reunites in Western Europe and gets to Gunvor. Not to buy directly from the unknown Chess-Bel, Gunvor purchased oil from Estonian companies Alexela Teminal i Eurodek, to which Chess-bell delivered its products. Estonia’s Customs Office officially confirmed the fact, here is the document. Belarus is a usual mediator who received money for scheming.
Whom did Chess-Bel pay to?
I think it is directly relating to the president.
You mean the money went to the presidential purse?
Of course. In Belarus, there is no other person who can take tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars withoud landing up in jail.
In the second part of the interview, Andrei Molchan told Belsat about Yury Chyzh’s company being involved in smuggling, the KGB’s ‘work’ with Belarusian opposition, the persecution of activists, preparing for the elections, the role of Viktor Lukashenko in power structures and the war between the Interior Ministry and the KGB. Soon on belsat.eu.
Katsyaryna Andreyeva, belsat.eu