The use of INTERPOL in the search for opponents of the Lukashenko regime 

The use of INTERPOL in the search for opponents of the Lukashenko regime

The International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL – is an organization whose main task is to unite the efforts of national law enforcement agencies of participating countries in the fight against common crime. The headquarters of the organization in Lyon, France.

In the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) of Belarus, there is the National Central Bureau of Interpol in the Republic of Belarus – a criminal police unit that is part of the MVD system as an independent unit that cooperates and ensures cooperation among Belarus law enforcement agencies of with law enforcement agencies of other member states of INTERPOL and the General Secretariat of INTERPOL in countering international crime.

Article 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) states that «it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.»

But in modern realities, the NCB of INTERPOL in Belarus has become an instrument for seeking out and persecuting political and public activists who were forced to leave Belarus and who are fleeing political repressions.

A striking example of such persecution was the arrest in Poland on September 12 this year of Makariy Malakhovsky, who was put on the wanted list by the regime in connection with the alleged violence against a police officer, which he did not commit, and, moreover, had already been brought up on administrative charges.

The regime’s scheme for tracing political opponents through INTERPOL is simple. In violation of Article 3 of the Constitution, the NCB of INTERPOL in Belarus accepts without verification documents with deliberately distorted information about crimes committed and seeks to declare citizens persecuted for political reasons through the international wanted list.

For violation of the principles of INTERPOL’s activities, the Belarusian bureau of INTERPOL has already been warned for putting the dictator’s political opponents on the wanted list. This means that if even one more person is put on INTERPOL’s international wanted list for political reasons membership in the organization may be suspended.

But INTERPOL’s refusal to declare Tikhanovskaya on the international wanted list and the issuance of a warning did not stop the regime, which, continuing to be guided by its criminal principles, sent its ambassador to France to the headquarters of INTERPOL to «resolve issues.» Predictably, no one would speak to Lukashenko’s ambassador.

It should not be thought that INTERPOL is used only to declare citizens persecuted for political reasons on the international wanted list. The NCB of Interpol in Belarus sends dozens of inquiries daily to the central office specifically for political affairs or punches out information about such citizens from INTERPOL’s available databases. The information requested may relate to the establishment of a citizen’s whereabouts, their status in the host country, information on real estate or vehicles, means of communication, the identification of telephone numbers, potentially compromising information, prosecution in INTERPOL countries, the establishment of citizens’ personal data, their photos, identity documents and much more. At the same time, INTERPOL itself does not even suspect that it is transmitting this information for political criminal cases.

This work is primarily conducted by employees of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption under the leadership of Police Colonel Andrei Parshin, who directly carries out political repression in Belarus, and the Main Directorate for Combating Cybercrime of the MVD, under the leadership of Andrei Kovalev, who is engaged in identifying citizens who have subscribed to various Telegram channels recognized by the enforcers as extremist and which comment negatively on the representatives of the dictatorship with the aim of bringing them to account for their crimes.

These MVD units exploit vulnerabilities in the INTERPOL system, because of which the veracity of the information specified in the requests is not verified in any way. All requests are sent through the National Central Bureau of Interpol in Belarus, whose employees are employees of the MVD and who perform their duties under obligation. Through INTERPOL channels, persons are checked who are not brought to criminal accountability at all or who are being prosecuted for crimes, the verification of which does not meet the requirements of the organization, i.e., for political criminal cases. The requests indicate fictitious numbers of criminal cases, materials from inspections, fictitious stories of criminal offenses, and indicate false information that formally meets the criteria for verification through INTERPOL channels. Employees of the NCB of INTERPOL in Belarus do not check the accuracy of the information contained in the request and are often aware that it is fictitious. Despite this, requests are sent by them through INTERPOL channels for fulfillment.

In this way, INTERPOL is now an instrument in the hands of the dictatorial regime of Lukashenko, with the help of which information about the protesters abroad falls into the hands of Belarus “law enforcement” bodies and can be used for repression or physical elimination.

The article was prepared by a participant of the SlovakAid scholarship program.

Материал доступен на русском языке: Личное: Использование ИНТЕРПОЛа в преследовании оппонентов режима Лукашенко