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Lukashenko strips over 80 former military and law enforcement personnel of ranks

They are accused of instigating protest sentiments in society amid the aggravation of the social and political situation in the country
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
© Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS

MINSK, May 4. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has issued an order to deprive more than 80 former servicemen and personnel of various law enforcement agencies of their military and special ranks over discrediting actions amid the escalation of the situation in the country, the presidential press service reported on Tuesday.

"In the period of the aggravation of the social and political situation in the country, for the purposes of its destabilization, some servicemen and personnel of the law enforcement agencies instigated protest sentiments in society, organized and participated in unauthorized measures, posted extremist materials in the Internet, called for radical actions, published the personal data of public officers, journalists and law enforcers and came up with accusations, insults and threats against them," the statement says.

Considering the nature and the gravity of unlawful acts committed, the heads of defense, security and law enforcement agencies raised an issue before the head of state "to deprive the afore-mentioned persons of military and special ranks," according to the statement.

The statement also says that "over 80 former servicemen and personnel of various law enforcement agencies have been deprived of their military and special ranks."

As the statement reads, some servicemen showed "disrespect for state symbols, threw away their official IDs, took off their shoulder boards and refused to perform their service duties," discrediting the honor and dignity of a serviceman and an officer.

"Criminal cases have been opened against some of them and are being investigated, in particular, for organizing acts of terrorism," the statement says.

Under Belarusian legislation, servicemen and personnel of defense, security and law enforcement agencies, including those in reserve or retired, may be stripped of their military (special) ranks by decision of the head of state.

In March, the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case against former personnel of law enforcement agencies, who had left the country after the August 2020 presidential elections in Belarus and were positioning themselves as representatives of the BYPOL initiative, on counts of Part 3 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code (‘Inciting Racial, National, Religious or Other Social Strife or Enmity’). The article carries punishment of up to 12 years in prison. The Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) has listed some former law enforcers as persons complicit in terrorism.

Belarusian Interior Ministry to deprive 40 former personnel of special ranks

About 40 former Interior Ministry personnel will be stripped of their special ranks in accordance with the president’s decree, Belarusian Interior Minister Ivan Kubrakov told reporters on Tuesday.

"This is an initiative of the Interior Ministry. We have prepared a request on depriving our former staffers, let me call them this way, of special ranks and titles of the interior personnel. However, it is not very pleasant to call them our colleagues," the news agency BelTA quoted the interior minister as saying.

The interior chief called his former colleagues those "who simply made a mistake in choosing their profession and at a certain moment, when there were certain difficulties, surrendered their IDs and refused to perform service duties."

"There are few such staffers but, unfortunately, they did serve with us. About up to 40 staffers across the country. All of them have been discharged from the law enforcement agencies," the head of the Belarusian Interior Ministry said.