27 February 2020, Thursday, 8:28
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Lukashenka’s Appointees May Turn Pro-Russian Ones, General Hryb Says

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Lukashenka’s Appointees May Turn Pro-Russian Ones, General Hryb Says
Myachyslau Hryb
Photo: Radio Svaboda

What is going on in the Belarusian power structures?

Lukashenka has appointed new heads of the Defense Ministry, the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Security Council. Viktar Khrenin, who used to be the commander of the Western Operational Command, was appointed Defense Minister. Aliaksandr Valfovich, former First Deputy Chief of General Staff, is appointed Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces.

Former Defense Minister Andrei Raukou now is the Secretary of State of the Security Council. What is behind these reshuffles? The former head of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, Lieutenant General of Police Myachyslau Hryb answers the questions of Charter97.org.

- Myachyslau Ivanavich, Lukashenka explained appointments by "difficult times". What does it mean?

- Over these 25 years, I have always heard about these difficult times. I never heard him saying that we were doing well. Should we pay so much attention to these statements?! They are just common words. The situation has worsened. Especially due to the disagreements we have recently had with Russia. In particular, the so-called integration issue and cheap energy resources.

It seems that Russia and our country are in the CSTO - one military alliance. But it does not mean anything. Today we can be together, and tomorrow we may not. It is very hard to assert that Lukashenka is getting ready to defend himself today. One should be always ready. However, there is no need to be bent on it.

- As an officer, how do you assess the work of law enforcement agencies in Belarus?

- First of all, these agencies operate in a closed or semi-closed mode. Ordinary citizens can not assess their activity. We can deliver our assessment based on the statements about military exercises held. We are always told that the exercises are successful and so on. But it is hard to say whether this is true.

Experts say that the army misses order. There are many suicides and murders in the Belarusian army! There is hazing in the army. It complicates the assessment of our army's combat readiness.

- One of the first statements of the new Defense Minister Viktar Khrenin is that "soldiers must be ready for war". Why?

- Of course, we must always be ready to fight against military aggression. Since Belarus says that we have no offensive strategy and never had one, the doctrine should be purely defensive. But the defence also means war. This is science, too. One must always be ready for it. The military must be properly trained. Especially amid such difficult relations with the Russian Federation.

- On the one hand, we are in a military alliance with Russia. On the other hand, we see it as an enemy. Are there any contradictions here?

- What kind of union can we have with Russia? In addition, the CSTO failed as a military alliance. Whatever is done there, it is more playful than real. We are a member of the CSTO, but we do not take part in any military activity and so on.

There is one main and leading country taking part - the Russian Federation. Nobody even consults with us as the country-member of the CSTO.

Did anyone inform Belarus when the Crimea was seized? Other military operations? I think that nobody asked permission of the Belarusian leadership. Moscow itself did everything and we just faced the fact. No illusions.

- The new heads of law enforcement agencies studied and made their careers in Russia. Aliaksandr Valfovich is a native of Russia. Can such people protect our country from the threat coming from the East?

- You see, earlier all servicemen, generals and colonels were mostly related to military educational institutions located on the territory of Russia. We practically had no military schools here. We had a school, but we had neither institute nor academy. Then there was established a national institution of higher military education. Where should they all have been trained? In Russia. Russia had all sorts of academies and so on. They were trained there.

To some extent, it may affect their choice, which side to take. They can remain Russians inside. There are quite a few military men who think that the Russian armed forces are great, and the Belarusian armed forces are not.

The Russian armed forces are more financially secure than the Belarusian ones. They also earn a higher pension.

Today it is more profitable to serve in the Russian armed forces than the Belarusian ones. It tempts many people. There is one language, no borders, theory.

We shouldn't rely on these officers. In life, one should always rely on oneself. Therefore, Belarusians should live their life.