Days after EUObserver published a sensational wiretap from the Belarusian KGB purporting the Belarusian dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka ordered assassinations of opponents of his regime, one of those on the hitlist spoke. Oleg Alkaev, the former head of the Minsk pre-trial detention center, told in interviews with the Russian media The Insider and the German public broadcaster DW why Lukashenka was after him and two other Belarusians who survived — and why he wanted to kill the Belarusian-Ukrainian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was assassinated in Kyiv in 2016 in a way uncannily similar to that discussed on the tape.
The wiretapped recording from 2012 contains the voice attributed to then-head of the Belarusian KGB Vadym Zaitsev, who discusses planned assassinations of critics of Lukashenka’s regime with officers from the elite Alpha KGB special forces unit.
Their conversation touches on plans to plant a bomb to kill Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet via planting a bomb. He was indeed killed in 2016 in Kyiv: a bomb planted under his car detonated just when he was driving out in the morning. Three Ukrainians are charged with his murder, but the trial does not withstand scrutiny.
There were plans to kill three other people, as well, including Oleg Alkaev, the former head of the Minsk pre-trial detention center. He exposed abductions and possible killings of Belarusian opposition politicians in the book “The execution squad,” which he co-authored with Pavel Sheremet. Alkaev was also the head of the “execution group” that carried out death sentences in the detention center. He was granted the status of a political refugee in Germany in 2002.
He told The Insider why Lukashenka wanted to kill Sheremet and the other men from this list.
An irritant for Belarus
Alkaev learned about the planned assassination on him in 2012 [Igor Makar, the former special forces officer who got hold of the recording in 2012 and shared it in 2020, alerted his friend Alkaev about the planned attempt on his life – Ed. ], after which he got protection from the Berlin police.
“I have no doubt that the Belarusian KGB was involved in Sheremet’s murder. He was an irritant for Belarus because we were working on the continuation of the book “The execution squad,” it was very unpleasant, he was an editor, a publisher and my friend. So we worked, we planned to republish the old book and publish a new one. It was dangerous. He had access, was a well-known figure in the journalistic world, and could broadcast on TV what we are talking about on the phone. Directly at once and on different channels. Ukraine allowed it to do so. And most importantly, at that time it was the most accessible one out of the four assigned for this hit job,” Alkaev shared.
He added that other potential victims were also carriers of important information.
Vyacheslav Dudkin, the former head of the department for combating corruption and economic crimes of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus, was in close relations with the Minister of Internal Affairs and “worked” on high-ranking persons. “He knew what could compromise the elite of the Belarusian power at the level of private life. This information concerned theft and embezzlement,” Alkaev explained. Dudkin now lives in Germany.
Vladimir Borodach , a retired special forces colonel, was also a significant figure in Belarus, voicing many things that were unpleasant for the authorities.,explains Alkaev. In 2012, he initiated the creation of a Belarusian government in exile; he now lives in exile and maintains a media presence. Earlier in 2010, Borodach told DW details about the murder of former Belarusian Interior Minister, general Yuriy Zakharenko, the first Interior Minister to go into opposition to Lukashenka. Zakharenko was abducted, tortured to extract “confessions” that he was plotting a coup, and killed.
Attempts to assassinate these three Belarusians failed. According to Alkaev, the team of killers was assembled and preparing to head out to Berlin, but was stopped by the activities of Igor Makar, the former special police officer who shared the records with US security agencies.
Alkaev believes that until the tapes were published by EUObserver, the Belarusian KGB did not know that the Germans were alerted of the existence of these plans, and that the discussion on eliminating Lukashenka’s opponents was taped.
“Now that the tape has been made public, the danger has not gone anywhere, I am still a target. On the territory of Germany, I was guaranteed safety, but in other countries no one will give such guarantees, so I have to stay in the country.”
He sees no reason to believe that the planned assassination was not ordered by Lukashenka.
“ The first person in the state allocates money, manages the budget, and there a specific amount was indicated. Why would anyone else want me [killed]? Everyone else didn’t even know me that well, and I didn’t do anything bad to them in my life.”
Alkaev is now working on a sequel to the “Execution squad.” He says he wrote to Sheremet at the time when he was alerted of the plan to assassinate him, and told him, rather vaguely, about repressions planned by Lukashenka. Sheremet did not respond.
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