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What is known about KGB agent Yulia Yukhnavets?
Yulia Yukhnavets. Photo from Vkontakte
Yulia Yukhnavets's name appeared in the news after she admitted, when questioned as a witness during the trial of the REP independent trade union leaders in Minsk, that she had collaborated with the Belarusian state security service (KGB). She also revealed how she transported cash from Lithuania for the needs of the trade union while working as the office manager there. Yulia would take pictures of the banknotes and receive payments from the secret service.
Euroradio learned from Yulia Yukhnavets' page on Vkontakte (removed now) that she was born on 17 August 1996 in Minsk. The people who know her say the family she comes from is not well-to-do. Her mother works at the Belarusian state agrotechnical university. There is no data about her father.
Yulia entered the secreterial training course at the Minsk State Electronics College in 2011. This vocational school has good relations with the REP independent trade union. No wonder, the trade union leader Henadz Fiadynich went there when he was in need of a secretary. The college administration recommended Yulia.
Part One. College
Yulia's collegemates tell Euroradio that she was sociable and compassionate. However, she has cut communication with the majority of her former mates from the college.
"She was a very interesting personality, liked to be photographed. Unfortunately, i have not talked to her for over a year," says her former collegemate Valeria. "She liked to dance a lot. She was sociable and kind. I can't speak badly of her."
In 2013, Yulia Yukhnavets won the Miss Spring college beauty pageant.
"I got to know Yulia during my time in the college. The last time we saw each other was last summer. We have not communicated since then. She always seemed to be a kind and compassionate person. I knew nothing about her work at the trade union. She shouldn't have got into this mess. I reckon trade unions are always being hunted, and KGB needed some information. Perhaps, she was intimidated or blackmailed," says Ania who studied with Yulia Yukhnavets at the college.
Part Two. World without borders
In the mid-2010s, Yuilia joined the World without Borders charity, which provides assistance to children.
"We did not know each other very well," says a World without Borders staffer was her friend on social media. "She applied to be a volunteer with our organization. She attended our events a couple of times but was not very involved. Actually, I have not seen her for a long time."
Part Three. A drama studio
Yet another girl Albina (the last name is in Euroradio's possession) got to know Yulia Yukhnavets during internship at a theater studio.
"We got to know each other at a drama studio in 2015. She came there together with her friend named V. (Euroradio has the last name). They liked to hang out with Boho youngsters. She liked to look posh, yet it was totally unclear where she would get the money to maintain that image. As far as I know, she did not earn much. However, she possessed luxuary goods - Chanel bag, expensive fur coats, jewelry with diamonds. It is clear now where she got the money for that lifestyle from."
Yukhnavets and V. liked to provoke theater lovers into conversations about politics, the abuse of officials, Lukashenka, the top officials from the VIP residence in Drazdy.
"V. liked to stage discussions. Yulia preferred to chat privately and ask everything: where I studied, what I did, where I was going to continue my studies, why I did not want to study abroad. Why would she need to know all of that? We barely knew each other. She used to say she studied abroad somewhere or in some private university. She liked to pretent as a dissident."
Part Four. Financial pyramid
Sometimes, Yulia would disappear and keep silence on messengers. But when she would re-appear in Albina's life, she had risky proposals.
"She would re-appear suddenly with some murky proposals. For example, she was all over me suggesting that I join the cryptocurrency financial pyramid scheme MaxiRise [ceased to exist in early 2018 — Euroradio]. She admitted at some point later that she worked as a recruiter in similar companies.
I asked her why she was getting involved with swindlers. I had information from a relative in the Internal Affairs Ministry. She responded: "My informants are much more powerful than yours." Back then, I did not pay attention to those words. It sounds like she gathered information wherever she worked. A snake... Yet I admit she could be in some difficult circumstances that would push her into this cooperation, but I don't understand her."
Part Five. REP trade union
Yulia Yukhnavets offered a job at the trade union to a Euroradio's interlocutor but the young woman refused.
"Yulia told me the job was easy. It would also involve trips abroad. But I decided to stay away. At about the same time, she quit the trade union. I think it was in 2016. She disappeared, and then there were rumors about some problems at the trade union. I recall feeling happy that I did not take her job offer."
Yulia disappeared completely after that. She changed her phone numbers and accounts on social media. Albina no longer talked to her. She learned about her former friends from the news outelts reporting on the trial of the REP trade union leaders.