BELARUSALERT – DAY 26
Date: 4 September 2020
Russian PM’s visit, KGB head change, Poland in the crosshairs
Two important events took place in Minsk on Thursday, September 3: Lukashenko made personnel changes in the leadership of the force structures, and also met with the Prime Minister of Russia. The President of Belarus appointed a new head of the State Security Committee (KGB) and a new secretary of the Security Council. In fact, it was a transfer from one position to another. The former head of the KGB – Waler Wakulczyk, became the secretary of the Security Council. He was replaced in the KGB by Ivan Tertel – the former head of the State Control Committee (KGK), having had extensive experience serving in the army and KGB Border Guard. For the time being, Tertel’s former deputy – Wasil Hierasimou, will head the KGK. Lukashenko again reached for the harsh anti-Polish rhetoric. During the appointment of new heads of local authorities in the Gomel Region, the president announced that Belarus would never agree to display Polish flags in Grodno. Lukashenko once more accused Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Ukraine of allegedly interfering in the internal affairs of Belarus. His words about Belarusian Poles may be a cause for concern – in the past, the regime has repeatedly persecuted the Polish minority in this country, accusing it of disloyalty to Minsk. Speaking of Lukashenko’s anti-Western rhetoric, his words from a meeting with Russian Prime Minister – Mikhail Mishustin, cannot be overlooked. “We have deployed actually a half of our Belarusian army. We actually placed under control the western borders with Lithuania and Poland. And, as I frequently say, we have actually encircled Grodno,” Lukashenko said. Thursday’s anti-Polish rhetoric of the Belarusian president was in line with Moscow’s attitude. A spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that: “The Polish leaders are at the forefront of the EU’s unfriendly policy towards Belarus.” Maria Zakharowa accused Poland of exerting pressure on Belarus and supporting Belarusian opposition forces. In terms of Prime Minister Mishustin’s visit to Minsk, it is worth noting that he was accompanied by two Deputy Prime Ministers and five Ministers. The visit was of a technical nature – it served to establish the details of new agreements deepening the integration of Belarus and Russia as well as defining Russian aid for Minsk (for example, gas and oil prices) before Lukashenko’s upcoming visit to Moscow. Most probably these arrangements will be announced then. Meanwhile, on September 3, the protests in Belarusian cities were clearly weaker. The regime continues the repressions. A case of non-payment of taxes was initiated against Liliya Ulasava – a member of the presidium of the opposition’s Coordination Council. Furthermore, administrative proceedings are underway against two other members of the presidium: Syarhei Dyleuski and Volha Kavalkova. Both of them were sentenced to 15 days in jail. On the other hand, two journalists were sentenced to 10 days’ imprisonment.
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