A European online newspaper has published what it says is a 2012 audio recording of a top Belarusian KGB officer discussing alleged plots at the time to kill three opponents of Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Germany.
EUObserver said in the report published on January 4 that the voice on the tape belonged to the then-chairman of the Belarusian KGB Vadzim Zaytsau.
The attacks on the three never took place, but the plot discussed allegedly would have involved the use of explosives and poisons, it said.
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Read our coverage as Belarusians take to the streets to demand the resignation of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and call for new elections after official results from the August 9 presidential poll gave Lukashenka a landslide victory.
The fresh revelations come as Lukashenka, in power since 1994, faces months of protests demanding he step down following a disputed presidential election last August. Nearly 30,000 have been detained, and hundreds beaten in detention and on the streets, in the postelection crackdown by the government. The EU and United States refuse to recognize Lukashenka as the country’s legitimate leader and slapped him and senior officials with sanctions.
On the tape, Zaytsau is said to be briefing members of a special KGB elite counterterrorist unit -- Alfa Group -- about killing three opponents of Lukashenka then living in Germany -- Aleh Alkayeu, a former prison director; Uladzimer Baradach, an ex-riot police commander; and Vyachaslau Dudkin, a former anti-corruption police chief. The audio also includes discussions on killing the Belarus-born Russian journalist Pavel Sheremet, who was slain in a car bombing in Kyiv in 2016.
"The president [Lukashenka] is waiting for these operations," Zaytsau is heard saying in the recording said to have been made in his Minsk office on April 11, 2012.
In the recording, the individual alleged to be Zaytsau says Lukashenka has allocated $1.5 million for the operation, which he stressed must leave no trace of any possible KGB involvement.
An expert from a NATO country confirmed to EUObserver that the voice in the recording very much sounds like the voice of Zaytsau.
It "sounds like the same guy," a contact from a NATO country's intelligence service who was familiar with Zaytsau and who examined the bugged audio file for EUobserver, told the website.
Alkayeu wrote a book titled Shooting Brigade in which he revealed details of Lukashenka's "punitive units." He told RFE/RL that police in Berlin in 2012 offered to provide him with bodyguards, saying they had obtained information about possible Belarusian KGB plans to kill him.
According to Alkayeu, Lukashenka's regime would have wanted to target him since he was a key witness in the disappearances of several political figures in 1999-2000.