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Former law enforcement stripped of ranks and denounced
Maksim Dzenisevich and Aliaksei Shametavets / Euroradio
On May 6, Alyaksandr Lukashenka published a decree on depriving former law enforcement officers of their military and special ranks. Among them are those who left after August 2020, as well as those who left the security forces many years ago. All of them, from the point of view of the Belarusian authorities, committed "actions incompatible with the status of a serviceman and law enforcement officer."
Euroradio asked those who were included in this "list of traitors" how they were doing without their former ranks
"What can I say about this? It is ridiculous and absurd, but I was ready for this; it was not a surprise to me. I do not feel disadvantaged," says Aliaksey Shametavets, a former warrant officer, who served in the central command post of the Air Force and Air Defense Forces.
According to Aliaksei, he found out that he was deprived of his rank from his acquaintances.
"No one informed me about it. I want to go to the enlistment office and make a note in my military ID card, so they do not call me back later."
In August 2020, many people threw their old uniforms and shoulder straps in the trash and recorded angry videos. And what could an ordinary warrant officer, who left for reasons of conscience, do to piss off the authorities? Aliaksei does not have a clue.
"Maybe it was because I served in a unit like central command post? Among those who lost their ranks, even those resigned not for political but for family reasons. I spoke with one of them; he told me: "I resigned because my wife almost left me. Why are they calling me a traitor now?"
Personal data of security officers who resigned for reasons of conscience was later published in the pro-government telegraph channels. They wrote about Shametavets as a "victim of information noise." He says that after the publications in this telegram channel, former law enforcers were subject to persecution fueled by propagandists from the state media.
"This group published both phone numbers and our real addresses. And now I constantly get calls from those who, as I understand it, support Lukashenka, saying "traitor" and all sorts of nonsense. I do not pay attention to all this. I'm busy now, working, I don't even have time to read the news."
In recent months, Belarus has launched several criminal cases against those who used to publish the data of acting policemen, judges, and prosecutors online. Will there be similar criminal cases against those who have posted the personal data of former law enforcers in Telegram? If not, it means that, like in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in Belarus, "all are equal, but some are more equal than others"?
What do other ex-enforcers on the list think about the deprivation of ranks?
"I left because I was ashamed to wear the uniform. I swore to protect the people and the Constitution, not the authorities. Nobody reproaches me, on the contrary, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances call me a hero," says Vyachaslau Kavalevich, a former policeman in the military unit 25888. "Why was I included in this list? Same as always: someone was noticed, someone was not. I am proud that I was. My comrades-in-arms do not accuse me of anything, except that they may ask me to find a place for them in civilian life. I'm studying now, I recently got the B1 level certificate in English, I finished the tester's course. I don't regret leaving. I would do the same thing today."
"How does it feel? Amazing. I'm really glad I was stripped of that rank, as I no longer have anything to do with this bitchy regime. My grandfather always told me: "Maksim, my dear, don't take offense at fools," former senior lieutenant of internal troops Maksim Dzenisevich told Euro-Radio. "I keep in touch with many of my colleagues, from lieutenant colonels to sergeants. Of course, there are people who do not agree with my point of view and discuss me in a narrow circle. But even in this small circle, there are people who 'leak' the correspondence of those who disagree. This really makes me happy: the system will soon fail, everything will burn up."