Priorbank founder released from prison for ransom - Latushka

Siarhey Kastsiuchenka /
Siarhey Kastsiuchenka /

Siarhey Kastsiuchenka (Sergey Kostychenko), the founder and former chairman of Priorbank, has walked out of prison with all charges against him dropped, the head of the National Anti-Crisis Auhtority, Pavel Latushka wrote on his Twitter blog.

Mr. Latushka who in the past served as Lukashenka's spokesperson, Belarus ambassdor in Warsaw and Paris, culture minister and National Drama Theater head, claims the businessman paid a "ransom" for his release but did not elaborate on the ransom amount. He could only refer to his previous knowledge, writing: "I know that in the past the ransom paid by businessmen to dictator Lukashenka would amount up to 37 million dollars or euros."

Reports of Kastsiuchenka's arrest appeared in early March 2022. On 1 August, he was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for alleged tax evasion.

The media reported back at the time that Kostyuchenko was detained after refusing Lukashenka's favorite and Dinamo Minsk hockey club CEO Dzmitry Baskau's request to sponsor the squad. During the 2020 protests in Belarus, Baskau was reportedly involved in a backyard killing of a young Belarusian protester Roman Badnarenka. After Kastsiuchenka's trial, Priorbank became the team's official partner.

Employees of the bank suggested earlier that Kastsiuchenka's troubles could also be due to his contacts with Pavel Latushka who defected Lukashenka during the 2020 protests.

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