MINSK, April 18. /TASS/. Belarus’ first-ever criminal case on an attempt to seize power was initiated against those who were detained on suspicion of plotting an assassination attempt on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Konstantin Bychek, department chief of the Belarusian State Security Committee’s (KGB) investigation directorate, said on Sunday.
"As a matter of fact, it was a plotted state coup," he said in an interview with the Belarus-1 television channel. "A criminal case was opened under article 357 of the Belarusian Criminal Code. It is a plot of other actions seeking to seize power by non-constitutional means. There have not been such cases in the history of sovereign Belarus."
"Part 1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code’s article 357 carries a punishment of a prison term of from eight to 12 years," he said.
According to Bychek, suspects in an assassination attempt on Lukashenko are kept in a detention center and are cooperating with the investigation, giving confessions.
"Investigative actions continue. The detained persons have been taken to a KGB detention center. They are cooperating with the investigation, giving confessions," he said in an interview with the Belarus 1 television channel. "We have issued inquiries to competent justice agencies of foreign states for legal assistance in investigating this criminal case."
Lawyer Yuri Zenkovich, who holds Belarusian and US passports and who was involved in a plot against Lukashenko, was linked with US special services and tried to recruit servicemen to topple the Belarusian authorities, Bychek said.
"According to our information, US citizen Yuri Zenkovich was linked with US special services. In Belarus, he tried to recruit and contract servicemen of the Belarussian armed forces and law enforcement agencies who were ready to take part in violent overthrowing of the current authorities for money," he said.
He said that according to Belarus’ security services, the man had meetings with servicemen, with representatives of terrorist groups, including those that were nipped by the KGB. "We recorded two cases when illegal money remuneration meant for servicemen was deposited in secret hiding places," Bychek said, adding that active search activities were held during six months.
According to Bychek, Belarus’ KGB received information in March 2021 that Zenkovich had arrived in Moscow. "Under the existing agreements, KGB got in contact with the Russian partners and asked them about a possibility of sending a group of Belarusian agents to Russia," he said. In his words, the detention of the suspects was conducted jointly with the Russian partners.
Lukashenko said on April 17 that political analyst Alexander Feduta, opposition politician Grigory Kostusev and lawyer Yuri Zenkovich had plotted an assassination attempt on him and his sons. He placed responsibility for the plot on US special services and US leaders. According to chief of Belarus’ KGB Ivan Tertel, "the plotters planned a coup for this summer, June or July."
Later on, the Public Relations Center of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that FSB officers had detained two men, Yuri Zenkovich, who had Belarusian and US citizenship, and Belarusian national Alexander Feduta, on suspicion of plotting a military coup in Belarus and an assassination attempt on President Alexander Lukashenko. According to the FSB, the men plotted a military coup in Belarus under a ‘color revolution’ scenario involving Ukrainian nationalists, and assassination of the Belarusian leader.