- MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS
- POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
- HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Belarus Review (2024 edition, issue 06)
A weekly update on the ongoing political crisis in the Republic of Belarus was prepared for you by the International Strategic Action Network for Security (iSANS).
On February 5, one of the units of the 6th Mechanized Brigade was deployed in the vicinity of the village of Saki, Zhabinka district, to conduct exercises at the “resistance node of the Kobrin fortified area”. The unit practiced active defense. The fortifications in the Zhabinka district were built in the summer of 2023. On February 8, the Air Forces and the Air Defense Forces of Belarus underwent combat readiness check. At the military training field “Obuz-Lesnovski” exercises at the 202nd Mechanized Battalion of the 6th Mechanized Brigade with mercenaries of the PMC Wagner were held. On February 8, the Mokhro border outpost of the Pinsk Border Guard Unit was opened. The outpost protects a 30-kilometer stretch of the border with Ukraine, which is equipped with a video surveillance alarm system, a control strip, observation towers, and engineering barriers. Construction of the outpost began in early 2023. On February 9, the sixth training course for special units of the internal troops was completed. Internal Troops Commander Mikalai Karpiankou said that “this is not the last training camp”. In total, more than 1,600 servicemen were trained through such training camps over the past seven months. Based on the statements of Belarusian military officials, it can be concluded that the Belarusian Armed Forces have not yet received a number of armaments from Russia, whose delivery was announced earlier. These are Su-30SM fighters, BTR-82A armored personnel carriers, and Iskander-M missile systems. Enterprises of the State Military Industrial Committee have modernized the B-200 Polonez multiple rocket launchers in service with the Armed Forces of Belarus to the B-300 Polonez-M level. Amendments were made to the Internal Service Statute of the Armed Forces of Belarus. The document enshrined a norm that removes a serviceman from responsibility for harm caused to citizens because of the use of physical force, military equipment, or weapons. Most likely, these changes were an echo of the events of 2020, when units of the Armed Forces of Belarus were used to suppress protests. According to satellite imagery data, 25 storage facilities and hangars for military equipment were constructed at the 969th Tank Reserve Base between 2017 and 2024. The relocation of reserve stock equipment from open areas to hangars is carried out primarily to improve its preservation. The consequence of these works is also greater secrecy, as it is almost completely impossible to record changes in the quantity of stored equipment using satellite images. On February 9, the board of the State Military-Industrial Committee (Goskomvoenprom) met to summarize the results of its activities in 2023. It was noted that the state defense order for 2023 was fully fulfilled. In 2024, Goskomvoenprom plans to develop rocket construction and the fight against drones. It was decided to work on the development of a drone-fighting complex based on new principles of hitting the target (using a laser). Work has also begun on the development of a twin-engine multi-purpose airplane.
On February 6, Lithuania’s National Security Commission proposed closing two more checkpoints on the border to Belarus and taking steps to reduce travel between the two neighboring countries. The proposal states that the checkpoints Lavoriškės and Raigardas should be closed; moreover the commission proposes barring pedestrians and cyclists from crossing the border, and reviewing the license permits to Lithuanian and Belarusian carriers to limit the means of transport with Belarus, the movement of transport, goods, and people. It also suggested to restrict issuance of residence permits to Belarusian citizens in Lithuania. The closure is proposed for March 1, 2024. Several days later, Lithuanian Ministry of Interior supported the suggestion of the Committee on closure of the two border checkpoints, claiming that the national security is the top priority. Against this background, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian Democratic Forces commented to the BNS that she understands the concern of Lithuania’s security services, but the closure of the borders from passengers is rather “cure of symptoms” and not the resolution of a problem. According to her, first and foremost the closure will affect Belarusians, majority of which are against Lukashenka and support Ukraine. She claimed that there is no need to build an iron curtain. Commenting the issue of “building a new iron curtain” to the journalists, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda stated that the curtain came down with its full power on February 24, 2022, and probably for a long time, for decades or years, which will largely depend on the future regime of Russia. He also noted that “the existence of this iron curtain creates problems both for NATO in general and Lithuania in particular, which will have to do a lot of work and do it quickly”. On the following day, February 7, it was announced that Latvian government decided to leave the Siline border checkpoint at the frontier with Belarus closed to “prevent possible threats to internal security”. Latvia’s political expert told in an interview with Belsat that these measures are the construction of an iron curtain and doubted if it is correct to fence off Belarusians. The expert claims that by isolating Belarusians from entering the EU, “we partially aid the existing regime”. The border checkpoint Siline was closed in summer 2023 with an explanation of tackling the migration crisis on the eastern borders of Latvia. The decision was temporary and valid until February 10, 2024. The EU is preparing a new 13th sanctions package against Russia that should be adopted on the anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, February 24. The sanctions should also hit Russia’s ally – the Lukashenka regime in Belarus. Reportedly, the blacklist should contain “a few dozen” Belarusian and Russian military officers waging war on Ukraine as well as Russians involved in the abduction of Ukrainian children. Previously, it was announced that the governments of the three Baltic States and Poland are pushing for stricter sanctions against Belarus to mirror them with the ones against Russia. On February 8, it was announced that the Belarusian company Peleng, which is currently sanctioned by the U.S. and the UK, was shortlisted for the upcoming EU sanctions package. Peleng is the leading producer of optics for civil and military purposes, it produces and supplies parts and components to produce Russian artillery and military equipment (e.g., armored transport vehicles BTR-82A). On February 7, Taiwan added 77 items to the list of machine tools restricted from export to Russia and Belarus that is set to take effect on March 8 in a bid to prevent the Russian military from using Taiwan’s high-tech products in its war in Ukraine. The Taiwan’s government imposed export controls on a number of high-end machine tools to Russia and Belarus in 2023 and is widening the scope of export restrictions now. These actions are made to stay in line with the tightened export sanctions imposed by the EU, the United States, and Japan, as stated by an official of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan. The items added to the new export controls list include sophisticated equipment called CNC machine tools, machining centers, lathes and turning machines, milling machines, and grinding machines. On February 8, the European Parliament adopted an urgent resolution on Belarus against the backdrop of mass repression against the former political prisoners and their relatives, as well as the announced trial in absentia against the 20 “analysts of Tsikhanouskaya” (as the regime calls them). Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s representative for Interparliamentary Cooperation, Anatol Liabedzka, commented on the significance of the resolution and stated that the resolution is not only important because of its strong words of condemning the Lukashenka regime’s actions and demanding the release of all political prisoners, but also because it indicates that the EU keeps Belarus on the agenda and recognizes the agency of Belarusians, addressing the problems of Belarus separately from other countries; the EU recognizes and thus cannot ignore the repression and violence taking place in Belarus; the resolution was adopted in the year of the European Parliament election, which is critical for the next five years in EU politics, and confirms that during the campaign the needs and interests of Belarusians will also be addressed; it states that Europe does not recognize the so-called “election” organized by the Lukashenka regime in Belarus.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
The administration of colony N 24 in Zarechcha initiated the third consecutive criminal case for “insubordination” against political prisoner Victoryja Kulsha. She has been in custody since November 2020 and initially was sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment for the administration of the Telegram channel “Drivers-97”. In custody, she was tried twice for “disobeying the administration”. These charges are often used to give an additional term to political prisoners. Victoryja was sentenced to a year in prison in the women’s colony in Homel, and another one in the colony in Zarechcha. Thus, her term has increased to four and a half years. During her imprisonment, Victoryja has served 70 days in a punishment cell and six months in a cell-type room. In Zarechcha, one of the guards strangled the woman with his elbow, the political prisoner went on hunger strike, and she had a heart attack twice. Belarus and Russia are working on combining their respective national lists of “extremists” and “extremist resources”. This was stated on February 6 by the Ambassador of Belarus to Russia, Dzmitry Krutoy. “Citizens are perplexed when some of the resources recognized as extremist, for example, in Russia, publish some messages in our country, or vice versa – resources that are recognized as extremist in Belarus publish their messages in Russia. And when criminal cases are not initiated in the Russian Federation against these structures or people who, for example, fled to Russia, or vice versa,” Dzmitry Krutoy said. Most independent media in Belarus are recognized as “extremist”. There are more than 3,700 people in the Belarusian list of persons involved in “extremist” activities. In turn, in Russia, the Supreme Court declared the “LGBT movement” an extremist organization and banned the activities of the “movement” in the country. The company “Meta”, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, was also recognized as an “extremist organization”. Therefore, if the lists of the two countries will be combined, Belarusian citizens will face persecution for their involvement with these “extremist organizations”. Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s Decree N 37, which amends the charter of the internal service of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, has been published on the National Legal Portal. Pavel Latushka, deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet, called the decree “normalization of the killings of dissenters.” He noted that, considering the changes made to the legislation, “any permission for the security forces to use violence or weapons will be interpreted not just as their “legitimate” right, but even as an obligation. This decree will work to make it impossible for military personnel not to comply with the order to shoot to kill in the event, for example, of the suppression of street protests with the involvement of the army.” Valery Sahashchyk, a member on defense and national security of the United Transitional Cabinet, called the new decree “another logical step in creating an atmosphere of absolute fear and depression in Belarus.” The Ministry of Defense commented that the changes made are insignificant. On February 7, Maryna Adamovich, the wife of political prisoner, former presidential candidate and 2020 Sakharov Prize laureate, Mikаlai Statkevich, was released after 15 days behind bars. She was detained on January 23, during mass searches and arrests of relatives of political prisoners by Interior Ministry officers and convicted of “petty hooliganism.” 229 people were targeted in a raid by security forces on January 23-24, including an 82-year-old woman. Cases of persecution took place also a week later. 174 investigators worked on the raids. 24 people are being charged in criminal cases. Cases were initiated under articles on the promotion of extremist activities, financing of extremist activities and the creation of an extremist formation. 44 people were convicted on administrative charges. Some were tried for violation of the legislation on foreign gratuitous aid. As a result of interrogations, two people were taken to hospitals. The Minsk City Court continues to consider in absentia the criminal case initiated against BYPOL, as well as the “Situacijna-Analyticny Center” and the ““Paramoga” Mobilization Plan”. The prosecutor has requested for the accused from 11 to 25 years of imprisonment in a high-security colony. The trial in absentia has been going on since January 22. Former security officers, who opposed the authorities, are charged with high treason, organizing an act of terrorism, actions aimed at seizing power, creating and leading an extremist formation. The authorities began to actively use Article 356 of the Criminal Code on “high treason” in the fight against opponents of the Lukashenka regime. Two years ago, 12 political prisoners were held under this article, now there are at least 55 people. This figure includes convicts, those who are in pretrial detention, and those on trial. Among those convicted are media manager Andrei Aliaksandrau and his wife, entrepreneur Iryna Zlobina, journalists Katsiaryna Bahvalava and Dzianis Ivashyn, 10 defendants in the case of “Rabochy Ruh”, culture manager Pavel Belavus, “railway partisans”, and others. The terms range from eight to 25 years in prison. 70-year-old priest Henryh Akalatovich, political scientist Andrei Parotnikau and others are presently in pretrial detention center on the same charges. The trial of IT specialist Aliaksei Navagordski has begun; he had lived in Germany for a long time, but returned to Belarus and was arrested. Earlier, a number of political opposition leaders were convicted in absentia, including Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Pavel Latushka, Volha Kavalkoua, Mariya Maroz, Serhiy Dyleusky and Stanislav Lupanosau. Ex-security officers, members of Bypol, including its founder Aliaksandr Azarau, are being tried now. For almost a year, there has been no connection with political prisoners Maksim Znak, Mikаlai Statkevich, Maryja Kalesnikava, Ihar Losik, Siarhei Tsikhanousky, Viktar Babaryka, and Andrzej Poczobut. They were deprived of correspondence, calls, meetings with relatives and a lawyer, completely isolated from the world. This regime is called “incommunicado”. “The main purpose of such a treatment is to give the impression that you have been forgotten, no one needs you. To break a person”, explains President of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers Maryja Kolesava-Hudzilina. Earlier, the International Strategic Action Network for Security – iSANS published a brief “Incommunicado detention of political prisoners in Belarus: A heinous crime by the Lukashenka regime must be stopped”. Enforced disappearances have been used by the Lukashenka regime since the end of the 1990s as a tool of political repression to intimidate critics and spread terror within society. Impunity for the past crimes of enforced disappearance has emboldened the dictatorship to apply this heinous practice again. Taking into consideration information about gross violation of the rights of political prisoners and the history of torture and killings of political opponents by the regime, such as deaths in custody of Ales Pushkin and Vitold Ashurak, tendency of incommunicado detention raises very serious concerns for the lives of the detainees and requires immediate action by the international community to influence the regime in order to stop these crimes, save lives, and bring the perpetrators to justice. On February 9, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya joined the international campaign “Show Statkevich!”. Exactly one year ago, relatives and friends of the politician and political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich received the last message from him. “I call on all our international partners: media, politicians, activists – demand that the regime shows Mikalai Statkevich. Apply maximum pressure to the regime. We need to convey that no crime will go unpunished,” Tsikhanouskaya said in a video message. On February 9, the co-founder of the Belarusian Solidarity Fund BYSOL, Andrei Stryzhak, announced that the Fund had made payments to 200 families of political prisoners from the funds collected during the marathon “We care”. The amount of payments amounted to 100 thousand Euro – this is the total amount that was allocated to BYSOL after the marathon. On February 8, the European Parliament adopted a resolution “On the new wave of mass arrests in Belarus of opposition activists and their family members” (2024/2550(RSP)). The text was adopted by 459 votes in favor, 14 against, with 33 abstentions. Resolution strongly condemned the recent wave of mass arrests in Belarus, urged the illegitimate Lukashenka regime to cease repression, especially any gender-based persecution, and reminded the regime of its international obligations; called for the immediate unconditional release of and compensation to all of more than 1 400 political prisoners, as well as their families and arbitrarily detained persons, while restoring their full rights. It reiterated the position of the European Parliament on the lack of transparency, freedom, and fairness ahead of the parliamentary and local ‘elections’ in Belarus and called on the EU, its member states, and the international community not to recognize their results. MPs called on the High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission and the European Council to respond to massive human rights violations in Belarus by imposing stronger sanctions on the Lukashenka regime; called for a further reduction of the diplomatic presence of Belarus in the EU, continued support for regime victims through special instruments allowing them to obtain EU visas and residence permits and addressing cases of statelessness. They called on the Commission and the member states to further support the documentation of human rights violations in Belarus, to back turning the OHCHR examination of the human rights situation in Belarus into a fully independent investigative mechanism, to uphold the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, and to further accountability through extraterritorial and universal jurisdiction. The European Parliament reiterated its solidarity with the people of Belarus and its support for their legitimate aspirations for a democratic and European future and confirmed that it remains committed to working tirelessly with democratic forces, civil society, and independent media to benefit the people of Belarus. On February 8, the anniversary of the sentencing of journalist Andrzej Poczobut, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs called his release a priority for the office. “The Polish Foreign Ministry strongly opposes the use of Poles in Belarus as hostages of the authorities and repeats its call for the immediate, unconditional release and acquittal of Andrzej Poczobut and other political prisoners,” the statement said. It emphasized that Poczobut has become a symbol of unprecedented repression, as well as the struggle for the right to follow the traditions of their ancestors, learn Polish, and protect places of historical memory. The Ministry called on the Lukashenka regime to respect international law and bilateral agreements on the protection of the rights of national minorities. On February 9, the OSCE informal group of Friends of democratic Belarus, consisting of 19 countries, called for the release of Belarusian political prisoners, and raised concerns about the upcoming Single Voting Day. 13 more states have joined the statement. It was presented on behalf of the group by Canada’s Ambassador to the OSCE Jocelyn Kinnear. “It is obvious that the Belarusian authorities do not intend to hold real elections, which are required by OSCE commitments. This is not possible as long as all forms of dissent or opposition face intimidation, harassment, and imprisonment. There is no freedom of speech in Belarus, there is no freedom of association, and there is no free and independent media. It is impossible to hold genuine democratic elections under such deplorable circumstances,” she said. She also recalled that Belarus’ refusal to invite OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights observers is incompatible with its obligations. “As long as the regime in Belarus continues to fail to fulfill its obligations in the field of the human dimension within the OSCE and violate the human rights and democratic freedoms of its people, we will continue to express our opinion and express our concern. Everything can be different in Belarus. The people of Belarus deserve better. We condemn the ongoing military support provided by Belarus to Russia in the illegal, unprovoked, and unjustified aggressive war against Ukraine. We urge Belarus not to provide further support to Russia’s aggressive war. We call on the Belarusian authorities to fully comply with their international obligations and commitments to the OSCE, including by taking all necessary steps to create conditions for free, fair, and truly democratic elections,” Kinnear concluded.
On February 6, being a guest of the program “Govori ne moltshi” [Speak, don’t be silent!] (Belarus—1), Leonid Kasinski, head of the Main Department of Ideological Work of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus, stated that although earlier there had been “some illusions in society that peace was given to us by someone from above and forever”, because after the end of the WWII “we lived peacefully for almost 80 years”, today Belarusians “had a radical change of consciousness” and people realized that peace is not for nothing – it must be defended, that “the good must prevail, somewhere even with fists”. In his opinion, the creation of military-patriotic clubs for young people does not indicate that the Belarusian authorities are preparing children for war, and “only opponents of the current government” criticize the work of the clubs: “I have already said repeatedly, and I will repeat myself again. If they don’t like it, if it makes them angry, it means that we are doing everything right. The fact is that no one prepares children for war. Military-patriotic clubs and the process of military-patriotic education itself are aimed at bringing up young men and women to become patriots of our country”. Propagandist Grigory Azarenok went even further in his accusations: “Why the joint Belarusian-Russian lists of extremists is a good, important, necessary, and long overdue solution? It’s because we are fed up with “Lenta.ru”, which asks something about our elections from the “Coordination Council”. Because the pig Suzdaltsev has already gone off the deep end. Because the Polish and Lithuanian centers of our political scumbags are collecting donations for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Because terrorists are recruited through newswire channels for sabotage and terrorist attacks both in Belarus and Russia. Because Lukashenka’s enemy is Russia’s enemy. And vice versa. And we should have a common and complete list of enemies. And we will.” On February 7, the official Telegram channel BT-ATN commented on the attack on Kyiv and the necessary security measures taken by the Head of the EU Diplomacy Josep Borrell when he went to the bomb shelter: “’Kvartal 95’ is predictable beyond belief. A performance in honor of the arrival of any purse with money.” The BT news service also quoted pro-Russian blogger Anatoly Shary as implying that the Ukrainian authorities had deliberately invented a “missile threat to the capital” to shock the high-ranking guest. On the same day, this Telegram channel reposted threats by Deputy Chair of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev to use nuclear weapons in case of a war with the West (“NATO is a huge military bloc, the population of the member states of the Alliance is almost one billion people, their combined military budget could be as high as USD 1.5 trillion. Therefore, given the incomparability of our military potentials, we will have no choice. The response will be asymmetric. Ballistic and cruise missiles with special warheads will be used to protect the territorial integrity of our country. This is based on our doctrinal military documents and is well known to everyone. And this is the proverbial Apocalypse. The end of everything.”) and adds its own comment: “Don’t tell later that Russia hasn’t warned. It cannot be clearer.” The propagandist of SB Lyudmila Gladkaya copies the vocabulary and narratives used by her Russian colleagues about the Ukrainian officials and their allies (for example, “genocide”, “terrorist act”, “Westerners”): “All these shelling is taking place against the backdrop of bidding in the States and the EU for money and weapons for Kyiv. The sponsors know that the weapons they supply are killing civilians, and they continue. The despicable shelling of Lysychansk has once again confirmed that genocide is no reason for Westerners to stop; on the contrary, they are satisfied with the terrorist nature of the Ukrainian army and the Kyiv regime that they have fostered. The West, which is running out of resources and Kyiv is running out of time, is quite satisfied with blatantly ISIS methods.” As the Single Voting Day on February 25 approaches in Belarus, Belarusian propagandists are increasing the degree of praise for Aliaksandr Lukashenka. One of their favorite methods is to show for contrast the horrors of the war in Ukraine and the misfortunes of “ordinary Ukrainians”. Ksenia Lebedeva, BT propagandist, project “Eto Drugoe” [It’s different]: “It’s easy to start a war by provocations, a wrong word against an opponent, but it’s hard to end it. And our President understands it well. Today, everything is being done in Belarus to make our country develop, prosper, live in peace, and people here feel happy. We have a good example of how the authorities of the country, who dreamed of getting everything at once, let the state send the hat around, and let people die – [this is] Ukraine. People believed that it was possible to start living well thanks to free money from the West, its military aid and a rebellion against their own kind”. On the air, Lebedeva calls Zelensky “the main criminal in the Eurasian space” and “traitor of the Ukrainian nation”, e.g. the country “has been sold” and Ukrainians became “orphans that nobody needs and abandoned to fate”. On February 7, propagandist Yevgeny Pustovoy in an article for the SB expressed support to Lukashenka and the officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who proposed to return the article for “slackers” to the Administrative Code: “First and most importantly, the President constantly emphasizes that the most difficult gestalts should be closed now…. Secondly, the eradication of dependency is becoming a tool for changing public consciousness. And the third – after the events of 2020, we are noticeably cleaning our political and public life from the rust of Western narratives and time-bomb threats <…> In the system of internal affairs, we have clearly analyzed the social portraits of extremists, street haters, and the usual defendants in domestic offenses. It was proven that all these characters often have no permanent jobs.” During the period under review, Belarusian state media have paid much attention to the visit of American journalist Tucker Carlson to Moscow and his interview with Putin. Mostly, pro-governmental experts assessed the visit positively, believing that the eyes of many Americans’ would open because of this interview. Head of Belteleradiocompany Ivan Eismont: “Tucker Carlson is the most popular journalist in the U.S., especially among young people, who are quite apolitical, as opinion polls show. Most Americans have no idea what is really going on between Russia and Ukraine. They have the point of view imposed on them by the White House, the Pentagon and the media controlled by them, and these are the overwhelming majority in the United States. It will be extremely interesting to see how Americans react after Vladimir Putin explains the reason, the course of action, and most importantly, the implications of the Special Military Operation for the collective West and the U.S.” At the same time, there are also critical voices; Piotr Petrovski believes that the current hype around Carlson is “a clear fact of mental dependence on the West” and regrets that journalists from Belarus are not given a similar reception: “Yes, he will interview Putin. But what of it? Was there such adoration for every breath of journalists from China, Iran, or African countries? I think that even if the most famous journalists from these countries came to interview the President of Russia, no one would even notice it. Why? Mental dependence on the West, adoration and even servility to it persists. When the last press conference of the Russian President was organized for journalists from allied Belarus or at least EAEU countries, was there such close attention to them and their preferences in Moscow?” After the interview was published, propagandist Andrei Mukovozchik called it “a pure victory and a technical knockout on the scale of personality” and suggested that “this is why Tucker Carlson’s material will soon be pessimized in the West, swept under the rug, actively hushed up and pretended to have never happened at all.” Alexander Tishchenko, a pro-government national security expert, called the interview “the song of an intelligence officer”: “The Russian president has once again demonstrated the art of multi-pass moves. This was not an interview, but a simultaneous chess game session, or rather a negotiation, about which everyone talked a lot, but did not know how to start. It was a clearly addressed, partly hidden secret message to all interested parties.” Political analyst Andrei Lazutkin assessed that Carlson came to Putin as “a messenger – an unofficial envoy from Trump.” “Donald is not clear what is the goal of the SVO [Special military operation] and how to end it, but he cannot ask about it personally. For the sake of these two-three questions, the two-hour spectacle with the messenger, ‘conservative thought leader Tucker Carlson,’ was played out. This is a mutual probing of the ground in case Trump comes to power,” he wrote in an article for Minskaya Prauda. As before, Belarusian propagandists closely follow the internal political life in Ukraine. Last week, they reacted vividly to the dismissal of Valery Zaluzhnyi from the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the appointment of Aliaksandr Syrskyi. Yuri Uvarov blandly asserts that “Ukraine has long ago become a colony of the West” and that “the Kyiv junta coordinates every decision with the White House.” “Now Zelensky officially voices the reason for resignation as unwillingness to put up with the demand of the commander-in-chief to mobilize half a million Ukrainians. That is, against the backdrop of the panic that has engulfed all of Ukraine against the background of forced mobilization, Zaluzhnyi is being made into a bloody ghoul, and Zelensky is now a good savior.” Anton Popov, in his February 10 article, calls Syrskyi “General Butcher,” “a renegade and a mankurt with no military talent. He believes that Zelensky chose the new commander-in-chief not based on his assessment as a military leader but as a politically safe figure who cannot compete with him: “In addition, Syrskyi will obediently drive more and more mobilized troops to slaughter on orders from Bankovaya, and if necessary, he will take on public outrage because of high losses.”
iSANS teamBest regards,