Have ‘Belarus militants trained abroad’ ever existed? High-profile White Legion case closed

A line seems to have been drawn under the outrageous situation. The first-ever case that had been opened under Article 287 of the Belarusian Criminal Code was closed on November 27.

“The preliminary investigation into the case has been completed,” Ivan Naskevich, Head of the Investigative Committee said during his visit to Mahiliou.

The criminal prosecution of all defendants was stopped as far back as November, 27.

“We believe that by doing so, we have put the matter to rest. The materials were sent to the prosecutors so that they could study them and review the legality of the decision taken. The defendants started familiarizing themselves with the decision to dismiss the criminal case and its materials,” added Naskevich.

On March 21, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka stated that several dozen persons ‘trained how to deal with weapons in [special] camps’ had been arrested in Belarus. According to him, such camps were located not far from the Belarusian towns of Babruysk and Asipovichy.

“Thank God that real Belarusians let us know about it when visiting the European Union. A woman came to our embassy and warned us in an official letter that a provocation was being mounted. And we began to deal with the situation. Indeed, very interesting things have come to light,” Lukashenka stressed.

As a result, in March-April over 30 persons – former members of the defunct sports and patriotic organization White Legion, state-authorized sports and military club Patriot, Young Front activists, historians, as well as people who were not associated with any organizations, landed up in jail.

On April 12, the state-run TV station Belarus 1 aired the film White Legion – Black Souls According to the unnamed authors, two or three dozen persons were involved in the preparation of a coup d’etat which was to take place in Minsk on March, 25. It is reported that ‘Frau A.’, who lives in Germany but still ‘concerned about her Motherland’ came to the Belarusian embassy in Berlin and informed the diplomats of the alleged plot. The mysterious woman explained that the ‘provocateurs had been trained in Poland. She said it was her friend, a citizen of France, who provided her with such information. Notably, the woman did not know exactly when ‘provocations’ would happen – on March 24, 25 or 26. The information was not accurate.

Another mouthpiece of Lukashenka, the newspaper Belarus Today (SB, former Soviet Byelorussia), also published a long-read story dedicated to the White Legion and the letter of ‘Frau A’. The paper said that 35 persons were involved in the case of the preparation of mass riots; 20 of them were charged with establishing an illegal armed group In accordance with Article 287 of the Criminal Code, they faced up to 5 years of restriction of liberty or 3 to 7 years of imprisonment. The information was confirmed by KGB spokesman Dzmitry Pabyarzhyn.

In June, KGB Chief Valery Vakulchyk said that the probe into the White Legion case was still in progress and it was ‘premature’ to say whether the case would be sent to court. However, the rest of defendants were released on June 30, most of them were cleared of charges, but the probe continued.

It is higly unlikely that the Belarusian leader, siloviki and state-controlled journalists will offer any apologies to those involved in the scandal for broken reputations, lost jobs and days they spent in jail.


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