The MIA officers report about the mayhem in the law-enforcement agencies to the Belarusian blogger.
Radio Svaboda met with author of the Telegram channel NEXTA Stsiapan Sviatlou. This channel has been more and more often mentioned as the source of information related to the violations committed by police officers.
NEXTA was the first to inform about the possible suicide in the police car, that took place in the Niasvizh district, as well as about the disappearance of the head of the police clinic in Mahiliou, and a number of other cases.
On March 12, Minister of the Interior Ihar Shunevich admitted the “leaks” were outright, to BelTA. Last week he reported that he had appointed a service check upon the facts of the “leaks” of the police-related information in the internet.
“I am not hiding anything, there was a leak of certain information from police reports,” said Ihar Shunevich. “This information is not classified or secret. Reports are submitted to all state bodies, including the Lukashenka administration. So, there was a leak of certain information from some of the reports, it related to the incidents with personnel, which (we also do not hide) in these reports appeared in the form of special reports.
According to Minister Shunevich, the police will find sources of leaks. In his opinion, it could be someone from the officers of the internal affairs bodies. So far, the police are looking for who and how gives out the service information to the public.
“The policemen are fed up with the situation in the interior bodies”
“I saw the statement of Shunevich,” Stsiapan starts (the meeting with the journalist took place 4 days after the minister’s statements - note). “Immediately, there was a surprise: they will deal with the “leaks”, and not with the cases that are described in them.
They don’t intend to stop the crime, but to fight those who publish these crimes. Although the Ministry of Internal Affairs works for the taxes of citizens and should be open, like all other ministries. Therefore, these words are total nonsense. It seems to me that he himself regretted having said so.”
Stsiapan admits that he had special attitude to the minister’s words about the information “leaks” especially since it is his Telegram channel that publishes police documents. The blogger says that police reports are likely to go to other bloggers, as well as to the editorial offices of major Internet portals. However, there, unlike the NEXTA Telegram channel, they are not published.
“It’s convenient for me, because I now live in Poland and have no plans go to Belarus yet,” says Stsiapan. “And this is the main obstacle for those who want to stop my activity. The situation inside the Interior Ministry, as I understand it, made the police officers so sick and tired of it so they just dump their documents to me. There are really a lot of them, not everything has even been published yet. Almost every day I receive information that some policeman was drunk or something else. Therefore, I understand that there is no struggle inside the Ministry of Internal Affairs if this happens every day.”
“Shunevich should have said that I published fakes”
The blogger says that the number of reports on the situation inside the Ministry of Internal Affairs is only increasing. Stsiapan believes this is happening due to the development of technology, the emergence of secure messengers and high-speed Internet, which allows anyone to send a copy of the document. And remain undisclosed.
“And here a problem arises: messages can be fake, they need to be checked,” says Stsiapan. “However, the minister confirmed that they are true. It would be wiser not to confirm. To say that these were fake reports, half invented. But he confessed, said it was true. ”
The blogger considers the development of the Telegram messenger to be an important factor in the emergence of police leaks. He says that he actively began to promote his channel only last year, and suddenlyits development exceeded all expectations.
“It began in the fall,” says Stsiapan. “It was possible to establish good communication with the subscribers of the channel, and subscribers are the main resource of information. They trust me as a person who does not let the source down. If they ask me not to name the source, then I certainly will not do it.
So, the subscribers can somehow influence the situation on the spot this way. It’s the same thing with the police. Somebody will send something to me - and immediately there is a crowd, internal checks. Reaction sometimes happens already half an hour after the publication. The last message was that children were sent to collect some brush wood. Subscribers later told me that someone was nearly fired after the resonance it caused.”
“The information from the police is confirmed to me by several people”
One of the most notorious cases, information about which first appeared in the Telegram channel NEXTA, is the story of the alleged suicide of a detainee in a police car.
A blogger wrote about this in mid-December last year. The truthfulness of the information was confirmed by non-state media. Later, the Investigatory Committee made an official comment. The investigation has not been completed yet.
“A man from the Niasvizh region wrote to me,” the blogger tells the details. “Two weeks ago, the police killed a man in the car, hung him up with bootlaces,” the message was. I posted a screenshot of the message and asked the police either to confirm or deny. Niasvizh is a small town, rumors spread quickly. Some of my subscribers confirmed this. I was sure that no one would confirm officially. But this happened later. They said, however, that the detainee hanged himself. Of course, this immediately caused outrage.”
According to Stsiapan, there are several people who help to verify the authenticity of anonymously received police documents. Before publishing them in his Telegram channel, the blogger sends the documents to these people. They view the text and either confirm its authenticity or deny it.
“I think these people are really from the law enforcement agencies,” says Stsiapan. “They send me a photo of the documents confirming the information I received. Moreover, Shunevich also confirmed those were real “leaks.”
“If I lived in Belarus, I would fear”
The blogger says that people send him messages, using nicknames. He almost never knows the name and surname of the person who sends him information. Anyone can write. Therefore it is reasonable to ask for confirmation of the information received. Usually Stsiapan asks to send some document or photo.
“A lot of messages come in a day,” says Stepan. “Five messages per hour approximately. This is from specific people. It becomes difficult to work. I did not expect it to be like this. I published them once, twice - and everything started. People are now writing, asking for some kind of petition to publish. I say no, this is not my format. I also refuse from placing advertising so not to spoil the reputation. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with this Telegram channel. I wanted to do more with Youtube, but here it is. ”
The blogger says that his Telegram channel began with 1,500 people who came from Youtube (now Stsiapan has his own channel and on this site, the Telegram channel NEXTA now has more than 23,000 subscribers - note). According to Stsiapan, Telegram has the advantage of anonymity, security and speed.
“In Telegram, it seems to me, they don’t even block for mentioning drugs, this is the most free instant messenger,” Stsiapan explains the popularity of Telegram. “The most anonymous and therefore popular even among policemen. They know that no one will ever find them through it. After the Shunevich’s words, I asked the policemen who sent me information: what are you looking for? They said that everything is fine so far. And how will they find them?
These internal documents are sent everywhere - to the Investigatory Committee, the KGB, and the Lukashenka administration. ”
Stsiapan admits that someone may try to use it for their own purposes. However, he says that he hasn’t noticed this yet. Like, we don’t have Russia, where they can pay dozens of thousands dollars for the publications in popular Telegram channels.
“We, apparently, are already tired of the police,” says the blogger. “This is the most closed structure. It's hard to say what's going on inside there. I am not afraid of Shunevich. While I live in Poland. If I lived in Belarus, I would fear. And here, what will they do to me? They tell me now that I’m ruining the road to Belarus for myself. However, what can I do? I cannot just sit here saying nothing.”
The average number of views of each message in the NEXTA Telegram channel is about 15 thousand. The more pressing issues gain more than 20. The number of subscribers and views, according to Stsiapan, is constantly growing.