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14 June 2024, 12:39

Corrupt officials will face firing squad, Lukashenko vows

MINSK, 14 June (BelTA) – During a government conference with the Council of Ministers Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko warned in no uncertain terms that corruption must not be tolerated and mentioned a number of prominent facts of corruption and corrupt officials, whose actions have been investigated lately, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “For starters I have to give you some public information. So that you could imagine how the president’s work day usually starts. Sad but true. I once warned everyone. I am sure that there are people at this table, who have heard me say more than once: ‘It is better to be poor but free than rich but in prison.’ This phrase has really become popular among people in our state. As you may understand, I’ve said it for a reason. And I really don’t want to once again be either criticized or reminded that I get back on my anticorruption horse before or during some electoral cycle. Truth be told, smart reporters noticed a long time ago that Lukashenko has been sitting on this horse for a long time already, for about 30 years.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that he had been the one to chair the country’s first anticorruption commission: “And I haven’t forgotten where I come from. I saw all this injustice. Corruption is the rust on our economy. It causes extreme damage to our state. Not only economic one but also political one.”

The president remarked that he often hears top government officials complain about some people getting too much pressure. This is why the head of state mentioned a number of facts pointing to corruption among high-ranking civil servants. Law enforcement agencies regularly report them to him.

One of the people, who have been recently implicated in a corruption investigation, is First Deputy Head of Belarusian Railways Piotr Dulub. The Investigative Committee has opened a criminal investigation into his actions. “Money worth over $3.2 million has been seized in hiding spots in an apartment and a countryside home he owns,” the head of state revealed the details.

“This is just what has been found so far. The railway, the first deputy are overseen by Anatoly Aleksandrovich [Sivak, Deputy Prime Minister, who is in charge of overseeing this field],” the Belarusian leader pointed out. “What can I think about the management of the railway? Including about you. I have warned you and the prime minister. Don’t complain later that those people have been arrested for no reason.”

The head of state also pointed out another aspect of the matter. In addition to the report about the corruption fact he received a proposal from the government. The proposal suggested taking the agricultural enterprise Svityaz away from the Baranovichi branch of Belarusian Railways because “the railway has no money to spare.”

“This enterprise was handed over back in the day so that the railway would invest money in it and revive this collective farm,” the head of state noted. “If this first deputy [head of Belarusian Railways] invested $3 million in this collective farm, it would have no problems. Why should we take it away? [Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir] Karanik may sign the paperwork to hand over this collective farm to Novogrudok or to someone else. Don’t you hear what I say? It is necessary to aid agriculture! We have exhausted its entire supply of workforce. It is necessary to assign collective farms to the railway, to enterprises, and so on. It is necessary for them to invest in agriculture. People will go there and will be pleased to work there. I warn you categorically about the making of decisions.”

“There you go. Only one thief. Do you think there is only one over there? Well, [Prosecutor General Andrei] Shved and law enforcement agencies will find out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

“I am not going to persuade and ask you anymore. One step off the straight and narrow path and you will face the firing squad. I say it to you publicly. When issues need to be addressed, it is a disaster: I have to identify problems, assign tasks, go and check on things and then get things done instead of you. It is my last conversation with you. Regardless of any election campaigns. I have already talked to you about it. I am not really worried whether you will support me or not. I will come to terms with the Belarusian nation. I will find common ground with it. I’ve been finding common ground with it for three decades. But you should think about with whom you are going to work,” the Belarusian leader warned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko revealed facts concerning a number of other prominent corruption investigations and emphasized that law enforcement agencies do not arrest people for no reason. As for the people in the president’s personnel registry, all the information is reported to the head of state first.

“I have been enforcing one law for a long time: prove it with facts! And so they [law enforcement agencies] bring me these facts. A certain stack of documents covering all these shenanigans is put on my table every morning. And I even dropped hints for you: don’t you dare take what doesn’t belong to you. Don’t touch the things that are not yours. You will not be able to keep it a secret. I’ve managed to inoculate our nation with the relevant vaccine. Our people don’t tolerate corruption and thievery at all,” the president said.

The head of state noted that a number of corruption investigations were opened in 2024: “I’ve brought only some materials that law enforcement agencies, including the chairman of the State Control Committee, have dropped on my table this year.”

First Deputy Chairman of the Brest Oblast Executive Committee Valentin Zaichuk is one of the persons being investigated.

“An investigation into bribe taking has been going on for half a year,” Chairman of the Brest Oblast Executive Committee Yuri Shuleiko confirmed.

“So how can’t you see it? Your first deputy! Of the much-acclaimed chairman of the oblast administration! Who will keep an eye on your deputies and control their actions?!” the president asked the head of the oblast administration.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the accused faces charges of getting remuneration in the form of bribes worth thousands of U.S. dollars for making favorable decisions on matters under his purview. “Land plots. Allocation of money. I mean you give money and he splits the money with those you give money to. Provision of information about projects to build agricultural facilities and so on. In exchange for assistance. Who will be held responsible for it?” the head of state wondered.

“Comrade President, I have made very many conclusions out of this problem,” Yuri Shuleiko said.

Another fact: on 26 January 2024 the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into actions of the former deputy energy minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk. “The man worked in the ministry all his life. He retired… In exchange for favorable decisions to choose the Slovenian company RIKO as a contractor for construction, reconstruction, and modernization of high-voltage power substations in Belarus’ territory. So you can modernize this power substation but you have to give me a bribe for it. Tens of thousands of U.S. dollars,” the president revealed the details.

In early February the Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal investigation into actions of Pavel Vazhnik, who had run the Minsk-based enterprise Goravtomost and had worked in an executive position as part of the automobile road construction and maintenance enterprise of the Minsk City Executive Committee before that. “He took bribes totaling tens of thousands of U.S. dollars since July 2023,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko continued: “We’ve heard a lot about [former president’s aide for Vitebsk Oblast and former agriculture and food minister Igor] Brylo. I am not going to remind and repeat things. About 30 people face charges now.”

And finally another fact concerns First Deputy Head of the Belarus President Property Management Directorate Dmitry Rybko. “He is a bribe taker through and through. He is serving his time,” the president said.
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