Belarus: violent crackdown after death of KGB officer

The death of an officer of the KGB, the Belarusian security services, Tuesday, September 28, raised a notch the level of violence in the country, which is going through a political crisis unprecedented for a little over a year. Dmitri Fedosiouk was reportedly fatally injured during an operation to stop a “Particularly dangerous criminal”, according to a KGB press release. Since the beginning of the protest movement against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, human rights defenders have counted several deaths in the ranks of opponents. For the authorities, Dmitri Fedosiouk is the first victim.

The man who allegedly shot him with a shotgun, himself killed shortly after, was called Andrei Zeltser. An engineer at Epam, a major digital product creation company, he was also a supporter of the opposition movement, as confirmed by his relatives and the content of his Instagram account. He owned a shotgun as a member of the Hunters and Fishermen’s Society. His wife, present at the time of the intervention in their residential building in Minsk, the capital, was arrested. The two men, both married and fathers, were 31 years old.

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The episode, which is based on the Belarusian authorities’ version alone, has ferociously strained relations between the regime’s supporters and its opponents. The officer’s memory was honored in the imposing official KGB building in downtown Minsk, while that of Andrei Zeltser was celebrated by members of the Belarusian diaspora in Ukraine and Poland. The chats on social media and the Telegram messaging app channels are particularly hateful on both sides.

Dozens of arrests

In the hours following the news, many close to the regime denounced the ” Red line “ crossed by the opposition movement, going so far as to threaten those who are abroad. Alexander Lukashenko, fraudulently re-elected for a sixth term in August 2020, assured that the death of the officer “Will not go unpunished”.

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For his part, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Nikolai Karpenkov, gave a martial speech and promised that, from now on, during the next interventions of the security forces, if [celles-ci] don’t you[ient] not with raised hands, the enemy will be destroyed ”. In the shorter term, he also said that those who utter negative or mocking remarks about the slain officer “Only deserve physical destruction”.

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