Euroradio reported in detail about the connection between the company "GardService" - the first Belarusian private security firm (PSF) - and the Presidential Administration as well as businesses of people from Alyaksandr Lukashenka's inner circle. Since then, a lot has changed in the company, and the ties have become even more obvious.
Six days before GardService was supposed to start operating at full capacity, the company's owner changed, and soon after, the director changed as well. At the end of September, the organization moved to another address. Who now owns the first Belarusian PSF, how and with whom is it connected and what does the Special Forces training center have to do with it? You'll find answers in the investigation by Euroradio.
On 14 August GardService got a new full owner. Alyaksandr Mikhailavich Myatla now owns 100% of the company, having replaced the previous owner, the company "Globalkastom".
The full namesake of the new owner of the company is the head of the "Memory of Afghanistan" (Пямять Афгана) charity foundation and director of the "Stalin Line," reserve colonel Alyaksandr Mikhailavich Myatla.
The fund "Memory of Afghanistan" helps the internationalist fighters. The fund receives money thanks to "voluntary contributions". It is not known exactly how much money is handled by the organization as it has not published its reports for many years. There are only a few pictures and reports on the charity support from 2006 to 2013 published on the website of the "Memory of Afghanistan".
Alyaksandr Myatla, the chairman of the "Memory of Afghanistan" Foundation, is known for his friendship with Viktar Sheiman, the head of the Presidential Administration. Sheiman is a veteran of combat operations in Afghanistan. He has been helping the foundation since it was founded.
The foundation's web-site has a photo of Sheiman together with Myatla presenting the children with gifts in 2004.
In February 2019, the "Memory of Afghanistan" Foundation presented seven new cars to veterans of the war in Afghanistan. During his speech, Alyaksandr Myatla specified that "the vehicles were purchased thanks to the help of Viktar Sheiman, the Head of Presidential Administration, and several Belarusian businessmen."
In 2005 the historical and cultural complex "Stalin's Line" was created on the initiative of the Fund. According to Lukashenka's decree the complex was given to the Fund and now it is a structural subdivision of the "Memory of Afghanistan". Viktar Sheiman and then Defense Minister Leanid Maltsau were among those who supported the initiative.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka visited the festivities of the complex at least twice: during the opening ceremony of the "Stalin Line" and at a subbotnik, where he planted trees. A joint photo of Alyaksandr Myatla and Alyaksandr Lukashenka in military uniform is published on the website of the foundation.
In 2013, thanks to the Panama Papers, it became known that Belarusian Alyaksandr Myatla owned the company Interforest Corp registered in the Virgin Islands with a legal address at 16 Vera Kharuzhaya Street, office 148 in Minsk. Belarus has a woodworking company with a similar name - Navapolatsk JV CJSC Interforest.
A joint venture (JV) implies that a foreign firm must be among the founders of the company. It was not possible to prove the connection between the offshore Interforest Corp, but it is known that this company was founded a year before the Belarusian JV CJSC Interforest.
On the Belarusian side, the firm is associated with LLC Avtoimport and its owner, Navapolatsk businessman Mikalai Varabey. The press called Mr. Varabey "a businessman from Alyaksandr Lukashenka's inner circle". He was actively involved in the supply of fuel to the CIS and EU markets through the company "Interservice".
Mikalai Varabey is one of the three owners of the national logistics operator Bremino Group, which is associated with the previous owner of PSF - "Globalcastom Management". Two other businessmen who own shares in Bremino Group are Alyaksandr Zaitsau, owner of Sohra Group, a company engaged in geological exploration and gold mining in Ghana and Sudan, and Alyaksei Aleksin, owner of Energo-Oil, now widely known as Tabakerka kiosks.
On the same day that GardService changed ownership, Globalcastom Management had new owners. Now there are three of them: the namesake of the former deputy director of ASB Leasing Yauhen Zhouner, the full namesake of a member of the presidium of the Belarusian Judo Federation Anton Novik and businessman Alyaksandr Ramanouski. The latter owns a stake in the company YURANEX-security. His business partner is former KGB spokesman Dzmitry Pabiarzhyn.
"Globalcastom-Management" manages the company "Globalcastom-Commerce," whose customs clearance points are located in the "Great Stone" industrial park. The opening of the customs clearance point there was attended by the head of the presidential administration Viktar Sheiman.
The investigation of Naviny.by together with the TV channel "Belsat" shows the schemes, by which the largest suppliers of flowers to Belarus were the companies "Logex", "Globalkastom" and "Gaz Venture".
"Gaz Venture" is associated with the logistics operator "Bremino Group", owned on a parity basis by businessmen Alyaksei Aleksin, Mikalai Varabey and Alyaksandr Zaitsau. On the operator's website, Gaz Venture was listed as a customs representative. Now the page with this information has been removed, but it is preserved in the archive.
Cypriot firms Maylen Limited and Feloren Limited are listed as owners of "Gaz Venture". They are managed by the Lithuanian firm "Lewben", whose services are used by Aleksin and Zaitsau.
The new director of GardService (instead of former spetsnaz Yauhen Chanau) is Uladzimir Mikhailavich Arekh. His full namesake is a military man. At one time he was deputy commander of the troops on the rear - the head of the logistics department of the Western Operational Command until August 2019.
Unlike his predecessor, Mr Arekh is a non-public person. He was born in 1969 in Babruisk. In 2011, he graduated with honors from the Federal State Institution of Higher Professional Education "Military Academy of Logistics and Transport named after Army General A. V. Khrulyov" of the Russian Ministry of Defence.
Uladzimir Arekh refused to answer Euroradio's questions.
In addition to the head and owner, GardService Ltd. has changed its official address. The company was registered in the office building at 40 Niamiha Street. The new address is 85 Karvat street. On the outskirts of Minsk.
Until 2019, this address was the location of the "Center for professional development of executives and specialists "Special Training Center" (STC). Now the place is under a large-scale repair. There is a checkpoint at the entrance, through which workers and construction equipment pass. The territory is joined to a vacant house at 81 Karvata Street, which they are trying to reanimate after a long period of downtime. The entire area was recently fenced off with a high concrete fence, which wasn't there when the Special Training Center was located.
The STC is an interdepartmental structure, established in 1991 for the training of special forces units of Belarus. Since 2007, foreign special forces have been trained there. There were former and experienced officers of special operations forces of various law enforcement agencies of Belarus among the staff of the center.
The director of the organization, Andrei Krasouski, told SB in 2013 that the current Special Training Center aims to "unite the efforts of all law enforcement agencies in solving the issues of special training of anti-terror army soldiers."
The center has constantly held various championships, in which members of the Presidential Security Service, SPBT Almaz, SOBR, OMON, military unit 3214, Group A of the KGB, SDF, Border Guard Committee and Customs Committee have participated. According to information from the now inaccessible website of the STC, more than 5.5 thousand specialists were trained there, of whom more than 2.5 thousand were foreigners. Among the merits of the CST is the creation of new special-purpose structures in foreign countries. For example, in Nigeria. As well as a number of foreign projects for training of special forces of other states. Venezuela, for example.
In July 2019, it was decided to close the Special Training Center. By that time, the organization owed money to the NSSF. As of last August, the amount was more than 411 thousand rubles.
Shortly before his resignation, Minister of Internal Affairs Ihar Shunevich signed the planned decree "On norms of providing arms and ammunition for it". This happened in July, already after the decision to close down the Special Training Center. However, from the decree we can learn that the Center for Special Training kept an arsenal of various weapons: Kalashnikov automatic rifles of different modifications, Makarov pistols, SIG-Sauer, TT, "Viking", "Skif", Caracal F, different Glocks, revolvers, sniper rifles and carbines.
The closure of the Special Training Center is still pending.
The first private security firm in Belarus has moved to the place of the State Special Forces Training Center. That in itself is very revealing.
But even more revealing is that the strings from GuardService led to, shall we say, recognizable citizens of Belarus. To "the very" businessmen. Their business activity covers a variety of areas. And they do not have much in common. But there is something. For example, the above picture of them standing next to Alyaksandr and Viktar Lukashenka.
Could the first Belarusian PSF be connected with someone else? At first glance, it obviously does. But if you think about the situation, it feels like we're in a kaleidoscope. If you shake it, the pattern changes. But the glass pieces that make it up remain the same.