Belarus’s brutal regime has imprisoned him. He is now the “rat” of dictator Alexander Lukashenko

MOSCOW – This time last year an opposition activist Yuri Voskresensky in a KGB prison in Belarus to protest against the authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Now, he is spending his time with volunteers collecting the names of Belarusian prisoners who have spoken out against Lukashenko’s brutal 26-year rule and given him the title of “rat” among Belarusians. opponents.

The sudden change in the parties seems to have taken place during the three months that Voskresensky spent in prison from August to October last year to help organize a coup attempt. according to state news Belta and Voskresensky himself, Lukashenko had visited the detainees during this time, including a meeting with Voskresensky, who persuaded him to cooperate with the authorities. Since then, the former prisoner has been urging opposition prisoners to apologize for their actions, he said. Deutsche Welle that he had sent letters to 650 detainees to apologize to them and to send the names of those he trusted the dictator.

Hundreds Supporters of the Belarusian opposition they are still in Belarusian prisons, including Voskresensky’s leader, who was once backed – a key opponent of Lukashenko’s Viktor Babariko, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Voskresensky, meanwhile, walks freely and works for the authorities, compiling a list of requests from political prisoners who are willing to admit their mistakes and apologize to Lukashenko.

Voskresensky says his critics are “unfair” to him. In a special telephone interview with The Daily Beast, the 44-year-old businessman admitted that he “took the opportunity” last year and signed a deal with the Belarusian leader called “Europe’s last dictatorship.” The next day, October 11, he was released from prison. Now Lukashenko points out to Voskresensky as his man “responsible for political prisoners.”

“More than 700 opposition activists are still in custody,” Voskresensky said in a telephone interview from Poland, where he is attending an international economic conference. “I was the only person who put an end to the unrest on the streets … I promised with my head to every political prisoner.”

Voskresensky says he has passed Lukashenko’s list of more than 200 “repentant” prisoners to date. But the prison system is slowly releasing prisoners and no one is released from the lists have yet to be released. “We know how many of the 200 will be released on September 17,” he said.

“The fact that so few of these 200 people have been released from the list is evidence of Lukashenko’s brutality.”

Some say there are already divisions within the Belarusian opposition movement as critics apologize to the authoritarian leader. However, others, such as Babarico and his close associate Maria Kolesnikova, who were sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday, have vowed never to make such a deal with Lukashenko. Kolesnikova is now seen as a symbol of resistance after she tore her passport and refused to leave the country last year following brutal government repression.

“Voskresensky is a real traitor to the opposition,” Kolesnikova’s spokeswoman Gleb Germanchuk told The Daily Beast. “She has occupied our team’s headquarters in Minsk and writes there that she has a list of Lukashenko’s amnesties … Maria Kolesnikova does not plead guilty.”

In October, while still in prison, Voskresensky said he had met with Lukashenko and several other imprisoned opposition figures. The conversation lasted five hours. According to political analyst Vitaly Shklyarov, the former prisoner who was present at the meeting, the intention of the trip was clear from the beginning.

“We were all chips for Lukashenko in his political business dealings with the West. The US State Department, Mike Pompeo, released me from prison – I neither pleaded guilty nor apologized,” Shklyarov told The Daily Beast. the small number of people released from this list of 200 suspects testifies that Lukashenko is brutal. “

Despite the pressures, dissidents like Kolesnikova refuse to break. According to her sister, Tatiana, the professional flutist spent her time singing opera and sitting 300 hours in a small prison cell where she was kept alone for months. “Masha disrupted Lukashenko’s special operation to deport him and stayed in the country,” her sister said. “She is Lukashenko’s biggest horror.”

Neither Belarus nor Russia has ever sentenced a political activist to so many years in prison. “Sentencing Kolesnikova to 11 years in prison, dictator Lukashenko is sending a signal to everyone in Belarus: No sanctions can stop him. Everyone will be imprisoned if they do not admit their guilt,” Svetlana Gannushkina, a human rights activist in Moscow, told RFE / RL. The Daily Beast.

Voskresensky, meanwhile, has gone so far as to justify Kolesnikova’s arrest. “She was convicted by a court of our state. Look at Austria, they sentenced Monica Unger, an active woman, to 14 years in prison for anti-government activities, and Europe did not support anything,” Voskresensky said in a popular debate on Russian state television.

“Nothing but lying.”

Belarusian deportation activists across Europe have also been outraged by Voskresensky’s apparent embrace of Poland. “Voskresensky is a KGB agent and Poland allows him to come here for the forum,” Natalia Radina, editor-in-chief of the opposition news website Charter97, told The Daily Beast. “If you had asked me, I would have detained him in Poland.

Voskresensky, on the other hand, apparently has no regrets about his actions over the past year.

“Many opposition leaders who called for protests have fled abroad and [I] They remained committed to the development of “systemic” opposition, such as Russia’s Liberal Democratic or Communist parliamentary parties. This is the only way to end the chaos on the streets, ”he told The Daily Beast.

According to deportation political analyst Shklyarov, Voskresensky’s “attempt” to create internal opposition within the system is “nothing but a lie.” | Belarus’s brutal regime has imprisoned him. He is now the “rat” of dictator Alexander Lukashenko


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