A former commander of the Belarusian riot police says Berlin security officials warned him in 2012 that they have information about a plan by the Belarusian KGB to kill him.
Uladzimer Baradach spoke to RFE/RL about the alleged plan in an interview published on January 12, commenting on a recently published audio tape from 2012 that apparently spells out plans to murder Baradach and two other opponents of Belarus's authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Germany.
Another critic of Lukashenka residing in Germany, former prison chief Aleh Alkayeu, whose name was also mentioned on the tape, told RFE/RL last week that German police in 2012 offered to provide him with bodyguards, saying they had obtained information about possible Belarusian KGB plans to kill him.
The Brussels-based online newspaper EUObserver on January 4 published details of a recording of what it said was the Belarusian KGB security service's then-chief Vadzim Zaytsau discussing the plans with his subordinates to kill the men.
Baradach said that although he had never met Zaytsau and therefore cannot confirm that it was his voice in the recording, the fact that Berlin police informed him about the KGB's plans to kill him exactly the same year when the tape was recorded proves that the audio is authentic.
"It was not an official business discussion between the KGB chief and his subordinates. It was a discussion between criminals who laid out plans to execute a criminal operation," Baradach told RFE/RL.
On the tape, Zaytsau was apparently briefing members of a special KGB elite counterterrorism unit -- Alfa Group -- about killing three opponents of Lukashenka then living in Germany -- Baradach, Alkayeu, and Vyachaslau Dudkin, a former anti-corruption police chief.
The audio also includes purported dialogue about the killing of Belarusian-born Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet, a critic of Lukashenka.
The attacks on Baradach, Alkayeu, and Dudkin never took place, but the plot discussed would allegedly have involved the use of explosives and poisons, the report said.
Sheremet was subsequently killed in a car-bomb attack in Kyiv in 2016. Ukrainian police said on January 4 that they were investigating the fresh documents and recordings, which if confirmed would increase suspicions that Belarus’s KGB was involved in the killing of Sheremet.
Three Ukrainian suspects are on trial in Ukraine in connection with the killing, but the authorities have not established who ordered the murder. The suspects deny wrongdoing.
The fresh revelations come as Lukashenka, in power since 1994, faces months of protests demanding he step down following a disputed presidential election in August 2020.
Nearly 30,000 people have been detained, and hundreds have been tortured in detention and beaten on the streets in the postelection crackdown by the government.
The European Union and the United States refuse to recognize Lukashenka as Belarus's legitimate leader and slapped him and senior officials with sanctions.
Baradach told RFE/RL that Lukashenka will do everything to stay in power.
"Lukashenka will cling to power until the last riot police officer stands by his side, because only staying in power will guarantee him safety now," Baradach said.