A Russian website NEWSru.com informs that Venezuela was set to deliver Belarusian weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, and also seeks traces of “The Merchant of Death” Viktor Bout in Belarus.
The news site writes about that with a reference to an article in a Spanish newspaper El Pais. With the reference to their sources in Colombian government the newspaper informs about a letter found in a computer of one of the leaders of the FARC guerrillas, Raul Reyes, killed in Colombian army raid March 1.
An e-mail was written on February 8 and signed by one of the FARC members Ivan Marquez, who informed that Chavez “had considered with the Belarusian authorities the possibility of weapons supplies”.
“Our Belarusian friend continues work on the package on ways to the black market to solve the problems,” the newspaper quotes the guerilla as saying in the message. The e-mail reportedly said that a delegation “from the friend” was to arrive in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on February 17 to discuss weapons supplies to the FARC. “The Angel asked us to be here and reach agreement with the delegation personally,” the e-mail said.
El Pais says that “the Angel” is Mr. Chavez’s pseudonym and the man referred to as “the Belarusian friend” is Viktar Sheоman, state secretary of the Belarusian Security Council and a member of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s inner circle. The newspaper claims that Belarus contracted to supply €720 million worth of weapons to Venezuela last year and the deal was negotiated by Mr. Shejman.
It is worth mentioning that a delegation headed by Shejman visited Venezuela between February 15 and 19. During the visit agreements on principles of financing of construction in Venezuela of plants with participation of MAZ, BelAZ and MTZ, on the beginning of implementation of 5,000 apartments projects and renovation in Caracas district Miraflores, on founding a joint venture on drilling and repair of oil wells.
The State Secretariat of the Belarusian Security Council hasn’t commented reports of El Pais still.
Bout’s traces found in Belarus: he sold its arms and met with Lukashenka
A businessman Viktor Bout dubbed “The Merchant of Death” and arrested in Thailand recently, had his interests in Belarus as well. As written by NEWSru.com , Bout had close contacts with Belarus once.
Thus, over the period of 1994-2004 Viktor Bout visited Minsk at least 4 times. As a rule, in Belarusian capital he met with the director of foreign trade organization “Beltekhexport” Uladzimir Peftiyeu, the Secretary of the Security Council Viktar Shejman, who was personally in charge of arms trade, and a former Prime Minister Uladzimir Yarmoshyn.
Journalists suppose that in 1999 Viktor Bout met Alyaksandr Lukashenka, when the Russian businessman visited Minsk as a member of a Russian industry delegation.
As said by some experts, after a while after the visits cargo aircrafts’ take-offs and landings became visibly more frequent in the Machulishchy fly ground, from where Belarusian weapons were sent abroad in a high security mode.
Range of products exported from Belarus was diverse: Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers, ground-to-ground and ground-to-air guided and unguided missiles, artillery systems and mortar launchers “Vasilyok”, AGS-17 Plamya Grenade Launchers, surface-to-air missile system S-125 and S-200, ammunition supplies and equipment.
However, since 2005 business relations between Bout and his Belarusian partners grew cold for unknown reasons. According to one of the versions, the Belarusian side once failed to make 100% payment for another series of air transportation made by Bout’s air company. That is why he laid it down as a condition to pay for all services first, and to work on a pre-paid basis, which was categorically unacceptable for the Belarusian dealers.
Viktor Bout is considered to be the largest arms dealer and dual-use goods to the regions of ethnic conflicts and civil wars.
The US administration imposed sanctions against Bout in 2006. In 2005 the US froze his assets and submitted information about 30 firms connected to the businessman. The US Treasury stated that Bout owns a network of air transport enterprises based in different countries of Middle East, in Africa, Eastern Europe and the US.
Bout himself emphatically refuted charges of implication in illicit arms trafficking.
Bout connected with Belarus which was his duty area, but not only
As supposed by NEWSru.com , Bout’s arrest can cause a tumult in Belarusian higher echelons of power. The businessman is connected to Belarus in so many ways, and not only because it was his military duty area once.
After graduating from Moscow Military Foreign languages Institute Bout was sent to Vitsebsk to the 339th elite military transport aviation regiment as an interpreter. He was doing military service there until 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the regimnand was disbanded, but later Bout appeared in the United Arab Emirates as an owner of a transport aviation company which had among other aircrafts IL-76, which once belonged to the 339th regiment.
Air companies of Belarus and Russia (Belavia and Homelavia in particular) received contracts for work in crisis spots thought Bout. Several planes haven’t returned from flights, and their crews are listed as unaccounted-for.
But Bout was not only giving work to transportation companies, but possibly worked out schemes of arms deliveries. According to Belarusian journalists, it was Bout who helped the young Lukashenka’s government to establish arms export to very “interesting” countries and and supplies to very “interesting” parties. One of these schemes was once mentions by Afghani government ambassador to the UN in exile. As said by him, under Bout’s scheme chemical weapons (cyanides and other toxic substances bought in Germany, the Czech republic and Belarus) were delivered from the UAE to Kandahar.
“Talibs do not need such chemicals,” the Ambassador stated. “Reciever of these goods was Bin Laden and his people”.
The fact that Al-Quaeda experimented with neuro-paralytic agents and other poisonous substances has been confirmed by documents thanks to video recording obtained by CNN. The video footage shows a dog’s killing by gases.
Sources close to Belarusian Defense ministry say that even today Belarus sells arms according to Bout’s schemes.