MINSK, 11 May (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on the arrest of the former Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council Andrei Vtyurin as he spoke to reporters during his visit to the Students' Village on 11 May, BelTA has learned.
“Had he been above suspicion, he would still have been the head of the Security Service. There were some issues with him back then. He was a young man and he had a rather good personality, not everything was bad about him. I had certain suspicions. He was given a chance to keep working. Is being Deputy State Secretary a bad job for a military man? It is the position people can only dream about,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state noted that some link Andrei Vtyurin's arrest to Mikhail Babich's removal from office as Russia's ambassador to Belarus. According to the president, Andrei Vtyurin got on the radar of law enforcement agencies even before he was transferred to the Security Council. “I had suspicions back then. Literally several months later I was told that there were certain concerns about him. Speculations alleging that he was an agent of the Russian ambassador are absolutely false. If he were an agent of a foreign ambassador, we would know about it in a day,” the president noted.
The former head of the Security Service was on the watch list of the special services for about 1.5-2 years. The special services had extensive evidence of his illegal activities. “My position on it was rock solid: A person who was granted special powers by the president can be arrested only if there is conclusive evidence. He was caught red-handed: Russians once again brought him $150,000,” the head of state said.
The president noted that Andrei Vtyurin had many good qualities and served pretty well, however, his later actions ruined everything. The officer himself had to take part in identifying corruption-related crimes. “There is nothing extraordinary here, just routine fight against corruption. However, the higher-ups will face much tougher treatment,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
As he addressed the nation and the parliament, the head of state told officials: it is better to be poor and free than rich and in prison. As it turned out, the president meant Andrei Vtyurin and some other attendees. “What was unclear to them? It is an absolutely routine crime. The one who committed it should be in jail,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
When the news about Andrei Vtyurin's arrest broke, many journalists wrote that he was very close to the head of state. Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that it is not true. “You saw the people who are really close to me on 9 May. Those three persons stood behind me [Aleksandr Lukashenko's sons]. Trust me, no one is closer to me than they are. I am responsible for them, just like for civil servants,” the president said. He noted that he treats high-ranking officials equally and the higher-ups know that if they commit a crime, the punishment for them will be two or even three times tougher than for ordinary people.
“People around me like [Education] Minister Igor Karpenko, [Head of the Belarus President Administration Natalya] Kochanova, [Press Secretary of the Belarus President Natalya] Eismont are equally close to me and know what can be demanded of them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “You know my attitude to these matters. I never try to seek publicity by hyping these problems. Let's say, if god forbid, she [Press Secretary of the Belarus President Natalya Eismont] gets caught, she will face punishment three times as hard. If a minister is caught, two times as hard. If Kochanova is caught, five times as hard. This is what the ‘inner circle' is all about. I've told everyone: if you want to work with me, do your job and meet these requirements. They stem from our laws. There is nothing extraordinary about it.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he supports civil servants because they make a great contribution to the country's development. “Billions of rubles depend on them. I give officials land plots to build a home in a hope that they will not steal these billions from the state. If you break this rule, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” the president added.
He noted that journalists will soon be given more information about the case, in particular, how bribes were given and how the accused tried to keep it secret.
The news about Andrei Vtyurin's arrest on suspicion of corruption came in April. On 24 April he was relieved of his duties “for actions that discredit the military profession” by the relevant presidential decree.
On 4 May the State Security Committee informed that Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council Andrei Vtyurin was arrested while receiving a $148,600 bribe from a representative of a Russian commercial organization for his assistance in promoting the organization's interests in Belarus. The former deputy state secretary of the Security Council was accused of bribe taking (Article 430, Part 3 of the Criminal Code). The second person was accused of bribe giving. Both pleaded guilty to this episode of the bribery case.More about President