The Authorities Want to Build Camps for Protestants in Belarus
The Belarusian association BYPOL has published a recording of the conversation of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs – Commander of Internal Troops, Nikolai Karpenkov.
The recording was made on October 30, which is the date Karpenkov left his post as head of the State Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
As indicated in the recorded conversation with subordinates, at a meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko the department’s leadership had discussed the possibility of creating special camps for particularly active demonstrators in Belarus.
What’s going on?
Mass protests in Belarus against the government of Alexander Lukashenko began after the presidential elections in August. He was at the time accused of voter fraud. According to human rights activists, more than 30 thousand people were detained during the protests, many of whom were injured during detention or were subjected to torture and bullying in detention centers. Several people were killed.
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Dozens of people remain behind bars on various charges related to the protests, and human rights activists have recognized them as political prisoners. In connection with the brutal suppression of protests and electoral fraud, the EU and the United States imposed sanctions against Belarusian officials and several enterprises.
Belarus has even blocked the internet within the country.
What’s happening now?
BYPOL is an initiative created by former security officials who do not support the Lukashenko regime. The association has its own YouTube and Telegram channels, which publish various videos related to the security forces, and “merge” law enforcement officers’ data.
On January 14, BYPOL published an audio recording that sounds like the voice of the country’s Deputy Interior Minister Nikolai Karpenkov. He spoke about the use of special means concerning the protest action participants and the possibility of creating a “camp” to isolate Alexander Lukashenko’s opponents. The authenticity of the recording has not been confirmed. You can watch the full video here.
Presumably, the recording is from a meeting at the end of October between Karpenkov and personnel of the unit he previously led.
“We are talking, in particular, about the possible use of firearms against demonstrators. We are covered by the head of the country from all sides.”
Also, the death of one of the protesters, Alexander Taraikovsky, on 10 August was mentioned. A man is heard on the recording saying that he died from being hit in the chest with rubber bullets.
What about the reaction of the authorities?
The official representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus, Olga Chemodanova, refused to comment on the published audio recording.
“We have not commented and will not comment on fakes. The Ministry of Internal Affairs’ tasks are to protect public order, ensure security, and fight crime. In our activities, we are guided by the law.”
The Belarusian opposition also commented on the scandalous publication. Pavel Latushko, a member of the Opposition Coordination Council, promised to hand over the recording to the UN Security Council, the OSCE, and the EU, as well as the governments of Russia and the United States.
“We will raise the issue of recognizing the Lukashenka regime as a terrorist one.”
How do Belarusians live now?
Protest campaigns are still taking place. However, in winter they moved from city streets and avenues to residential courtyards. So, we can talk about local protests now.
But it should be noted that people used different VPNs, proxies, and messengers to stay in touch with the whole world during that difficult time. These are two of the most popular tools: Telegram with public news channels and the private Utopia P2P ecosystem. In the latter one, everyone can create an anonymous account to communicate with friends and relatives securely.