March 24, 2017 - Fort Russ -
By Eduard Popov - translated by J. Arnoldski -
In our recent publications on Belorussia, we've discussed the protest actions known as the “Sponger Marches.” Tomorrow, March 25th, pro-Western forces will hold a “Day of Will” or “Freedom Day” which previous marches have served as a kind of rehearsal for. But events in recent days have made not so much civil protest actions as shows of force more relevant.
According to reports from Belorussia, around 200 participants and organizers of the “Sponger Marches” have been arrested, plus 26 leaders and activists from Dmitry Dashkevich’s Young Front and the latter’s armed wing, the White Legion organization led by Miroslav Lozovsky.
White Legion has seized a significant number of firearms and bladed weapons, and also wields manuals on fighting in urban environments. Although White Legion has officially long since ceased to exist, it still holds training exercises. The famous Vayar paramilitary organization, which is close to Ukrainian neo-Nazis, also trains with weapons, and many of whose members have been through fighting in Donbass on the side of Ukrainian Nazi battalions, has been subjected to repression.
The Belorussian KGB stated today that those arrested were preparing armed provocations for Freedom Day. On Belorussian TV, intelligence officers remarked that we are dealing with “followers of the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian Self-Defense organization with whom White Legion has closely cooperated since the ’90’s, as well as participants in military operations in Eastern Ukraine as part of nationalist groups.”
More juicy details are gradually being revealed. Among those arrested are several employees of Belorussia’s own security agencies, including a retired special forces officer and deputy officer of the department for ideology, police, etc. The arrested have explained their possession of weapons as due to expectation that activists marching on Freedom Day would be attacked by pro-Russian activists. As our friends in Belorussia have relayed, in informal talks the opposition is saying that all the arrests of nationalists are the handiwork of Moscow, and that supposedly all the arrested nationalists are law-abiding citizens whose arms were either legally registered as collectibles or were planted.
Another high profile arrest was that of the leader of the Patriot youth military-sports club, Nikolay Mikhalkov, who has been named as a former special forces officer. Mikhalkov can be seen on a photo flaunting a peaked cap with a badge of the Belorussian collaborationists during the Great Patriotic War.
The Patriot organization is a pro-government military club, yet it turns out that the founder of White Legion, Sergey Chislov, and the founder of Patriot, Mikhalkov, are brothers. Thus, the government itself has organized militarized militias who are ideologically and via family ties closely related to the nationalist militants preparing the overthrow of President Lukashenko. And there are many more such oddities.
In a series of articles published on Fort Russ, we've written about the close ties between Ukrainian and Belorussian neo-Nazis, and how these “comrades-in-arms” are preparing a Maidan in Minsk and gradually amassing weapons and organizing manpower. After this series of KGB arrests, it must be admitted that this is an obvious fact. Weapons, manuals, and organizational support for the future Belorussian Maidan have come from Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland, as President Lukashenko announced on March 21st. Lukashenko also remarked that the main training camps of Belorussian neo-Nazi militants are on the territory of Ukraine. A big scandal has already erupted as the Ukrainian SBU has denied Lukashenko’s claims and the Ukrainian embassy has stated that these accusations defame the honor of Ukrainian citizens.
Lukashenko is only partially right in his suspicions. No less (if not greater) blame must be pinned on himself. Vayara’s training camps were located near Minsk and this organization no longer even disguises its activities. Hence arises the question of the competence or loyalty of the KGB to the Belorussian president in “not noticing” neo-Nazi activities outside capital.
As far as can be seen, the same situation that took place in Ukraine is being repeated in Belorussia. Ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovych once decided to play the nationalist card to scare his own voters and Ukraine’s neighbors with the boogyman of Ukrainian nationalism. Large sums of money were pumped into Tyagnibok’s Svoboda party and his competitors in the nationalist camp were arrested, including Azov’s Biletsky, to clear the way for Svoboda. Simultaneously, the SBU organized military camps for nationalist militants where they trained together with special forces officers.
There is nevertheless still an important difference. For Yanukovych, nationalists were a boogyman. In Lukashenko’s designs (or in the plans of the nationalist forces' patrons in the security services), they are supposed to complete more complex tasks, in particular raising Belorussian national consciousness, and thus alienating Belorussians from the idea of the Russian-Belorussian brotherhood. But in the end, Belorussian authorities have raised their own neo-Nazis at their own peril.
Lukashenko’s regime has stopped at a very dangerous point, while the local “opposition” (the armed Nazi underground) is not stopping itself there.
In our next article, we will discuss the international aspect of this problem.
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