4 August 2021, Wednesday, 16:06
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Tales from the Cellar

Tales from the Cellar
Iryna Khalip

How the KGB and FSB uncovered a "conspiracy" against Lukashenka.

The “conspiracy” against Lukashenka had a clear scenario. On May 9 (or later - the versions of the KGB and the FSB differ slightly), Lukashenka was supposed to be killed and then put in a cellar in the Homel region together with his sons (or first put in a cellar and then be shot like in the Ipatiev house - in this matter, there is no certainty yet).

But the Belarusian special services were able to solve the crime in time, take Lukashenka on an excursion to the cellar, contact Russian colleagues, arrest the conspirators, and find out that this conspiracy was organized by the CIA and the FBI. After that, Putin talked about it on the phone with Biden and shamed him, but Biden only "gurgled" in response. Putin treats him like a man, but he gurgles.

Aliaksandr Lukashenka told all this to the journalists of his pool on April 17, during the subbotnik. And he said this seriously.

In Belarus, subbotniks have not been canceled, so all civil servants go out to paint the grass in front of television cameras and their bosses on one of April Saturdays. Lukashenka himself always comes out to pose with a bucket or a shovel, and at the same time, talk about another conspiracy. There were a lot of all sorts of stories for a quarter of a century. But such is for the first time.

Journalists asked him about the detention in Moscow of political scientist Aliaksandr Fiaduta and lawyer Yury Ziankovich, who has US citizenship. In response, Lukashenka said that they were preparing an attempt on the lives of him and his family: “Why I was silent - I don’t want to talk about myself, about my family, about children. But they went for the children. The plan was to capture the child, first, second, if they can... "We will put them in the cellar..." By the way, they prepared the cellar in the Homel region. We detained the group, they led us, showed how it was all planned. Then we discovered the work of apparently foreign intelligence services. Most likely, it was the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, I do not know which of the Americans worked there. We discovered their desire to come to Minsk and start organizing the assassination attempt on the president and the children... They were captured in Moscow. From the USA, agents flew in, some kind of Ziankovich. We tracked them, observed them. They were afraid to go here after we detained several groups that had already taken their weapons here to hiding places. And they left for Moscow."

After that, according to Lukashenka, he asked for help from the Russian president, and the KGB chairman - “his colleague Sasha Bortnikov,” and a capture group of 11-12 people left for Moscow.

Fiaduta and Ziankovich were detained and taken to Minsk: “Living people; we recorded everything, audio, video. God forbid, they touch my children, who are generally not involved in this. God forbid, not only to mine but also yours, it will be a terrible massacre. You see, I endured, waited, drew red lines for myself, pushed them aside. And now we will destroy them completely. But another thing surprises me: why do Americans behave this way? After all, the task of eliminating the president, remember, can not be given by anyone except the top political leadership. Only them, no special services, only them. I am grateful to Putin. When he was talking to Biden, he asked him this question. Gurgling - and not a single answer!"

Almost immediately after Lukashenka spoke about the cellar in the Homel region and the first reports appeared in the news feeds, the state-owned ONT television broadcasted a seven-minute report on the disclosure of the conspiracy. There is a video of the detention in Moscow of Fiaduta and Ziankovich, there is footage of a zoom conference where Fiaduta recalls the fate of Anvar Sadat, there is an operational film of a meeting in a cafe shortly before the arrest. And, of course, there are comments from KGB chairman Ivan Tsertsel.

Seven people took part in that zoom conference "filmed" by the special services. In addition to Ziankovich and Fiaduta - the leader of the Belarusian Popular Front Ryhor Kastusiou; former AMAP officer Pavel Kulazhenka, who left for the United States ten years ago on a green card and is now working as a coach; former officer of the Almaz special forces Ihar Makar, who has been living in Lithuania since 2006; scientist Aliaksandr Perapechka from Seattle, and psychiatrist Dzmitry Shchyhelski, who left for the United States 20 years ago. The only one who permanently lived in Belarus is Kastusiou. He was detained on April 12. Fiaduta and Ziankovich stopped communicating on April 11.

All these people in one zoom conference is a soup set. You can throw them in a pot and boil the broth. But there is no way to concoct a conspiracy. If the KGB is not yet in the know, conspiracies are not discussed at zoom conferences and in Moscow cafes - that is why they are conspiracies. And the conversations overheard by the special services that the only way is forceful and that after the elimination of Lukashenka they need a GKChP option, blocking Minsk and the indispensable internment of several dozen people remind the dialogues between the characters of Mikhail Mishin and Alexander Adabashyan in the comedies of Alla Surikova. Remember, they are discussing how much it will cost to transport diamonds from Africa by dry cargo ships and oil by tankers and immediately ask a passer-by drinking beer: "Young man, can I have a bottle?" Conversations of Fiaduta and Ziankovich held in Moscow are about the same. To make a conspiracy out of these dialogues and seriously arrest people under Article 357 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (“Conspiracy or other actions committed with the aim of seizing or retaining state power unconstitutionally,” a sanction depending on part of the article - from eight years in prison to the death penalty) - for the special services means an open departure to buffoonery.

Even the chairman of the KGB Ivan Tsertsel, who is seriously telling on the screen that “the members of this group planned in detail and began the practical implementation of the plan to physically eliminate the President of Belarus, his family members, organize an armed rebellion in order to seize power by force,” looks like this: as if he could hardly hold back a laugh. It seems that if now the operator, standing behind the camera, shows him a finger, Tsertsel will "split" and laugh to tears. Perhaps, pronouncing this text, he imagined Lukashenka in a cellar in the Homel region - with pickles, sauerkraut, and liqueur, without which no cellar can do.

While everything is clear with the Belarusian special services and Lukashenka, the degree of participation of the Russian special services is still unclear, as is the question of who exactly detained Fiaduta and Ziankovich in Moscow: the KGB or the FSB.

It seems that the special services did not agree in advance on a common version. And the official statement of the FSB appeared on its website shortly after Lukashenka and Belarusian television simultaneously “fired” into the media space in one volley.

So, Lukashenka said at the subbotnik that his elimination and coup were planned for June-July. And the FSB statement says that the coup was to take place on May 9. Didn't have time to agree? Maybe. But it looks like the FSB is simply reacting to information from Belarus, so as not to look completely "out of business." The question of what it was after all - kidnapping or detention - remains open.

In the video, Fiaduta and Ziankovich are being detained by people in civilian clothes. They are detained correctly - no "face to the floor" or "ankle boots on the kidneys" - and this is not at all like the Belarusian style. The FSB said in a statement that Fiaduta and Ziankovich were detained by Russian security agencies and handed over to their Belarusian partners. But why then a group of capture from the KGB of 11-12 people, about which Lukashenka speaks? If only for the escort to Minsk - it turns out too generously. If, after all, for the capture and secret removal, then the FSB is really not involved and draws up press releases to avoid accusations of granting freedom to other people's special services for kidnapping people in Russia.

Of course, this whole story is evidence of a half-life. Lukashenka is seriously talking about the cellar in the Homel region, where he was supposed to be sent with his sons after the murder. Putin and Biden are discussing this cellar on the phone. The CIA and the FBI are hiding shovels, and the special services of Belarus and Russia are confused in the testimony. It is impossible to comment on this seriously, and I want to write everything off as the spring with consequences.

However, it is easy to see that for the second time the disclosure of conspiracies is connected with the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to Minsk. When Mishustin arrived in September last year, Lukashenka told him about the intercepted conversation between Nick and Mike - conspirators from Warsaw and Berlin, from which it follows that there was no poisoning of Navalny, Merkel is lying, and Lukashenka himself "turned out to be a tough nut to crack." Nick and Mike instantly became more popular than Petrov and Boshirov, Mishustin himself, as the first addressee of this sensational information, was instantly forgotten, but in vain.

The sensational exposure of the current conspiracy with the cellar occurred immediately after Mishustin visited Minsk. Perhaps, Vladimir Putin should have banned the head of the Russian government from traveling to Belarus. Another such visit with the exposure of the conspiracy — and no one will ever go to work in the special services of both countries so that friends do not laugh at them.

Iryna Khalip, Novaya Gazeta