Belarus: Leaked audio allegedly exposing top Interior Minister official ordering use of illegal force against peaceful protesters must be effectively investigated
Reacting to the publication of an audio recording, in which one of the most senior Interior Ministry officials in Belarus apparently gives criminal orders to police to use unlawful force against peaceful protesters and disregard international law, Amnesty International said:
“Of the string of incriminating leaks showing that Belarusian authorities crushed peaceful protest through pre-meditated human rights violations, this recording – if authentic – is the most damning. It must be immediately, impartially and effectively investigated,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“If a top-level police officer is telling his force to target rubber bullets at testicles, stomachs and faces, and if he is proposing the creation of internment camps for the most active protesters, plus implying that their deaths would merely rid the country of people it does not need, then under international law he is ordering the commitment of crimes.
“The voice in the recording also refers to direct instructions from ‘the head of state.’ This begs the question of how his comments can be effectively investigated in Belarus. However, the state is responsible for investigating violations of human rights law and prosecuting those reasonably suspected in fair trial proceedings. We demand nothing less.”
BYPOL, a group formed by Belarusian police officers who quit the force in response to its use to crush peaceful protest, published a recording allegedly featuring the voice of current Deputy Interior Minister, Mikalai Karpenkau, speaking to his subordinates sometime in October 2020. At the time he was in charge of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption.
The recording contains numerous statements which, if true, directly incriminate the police force in human rights violations, including the death of peaceful protester Alyaksandr Taraykouski on 10 August 2020 who died from a lethal wound when security forces fired a rubber bullet directly at his chest.