German police trained Belarusian colleagues to break up protests
The German police trained their Belarusian colleagues to break up anti-Lukashenka protests, according to German media reports.
Der Tagesspiegel has reported that in November 2010, a month before a violent police crackdown on a post-election protest at the center of Minsk, Belarusian police officers were allowed to observe the dispersal of protesters blocking the way for the Castor nuclear waste train in Germany.
A total of 500 officers of Belarus’ law-enforcement agencies have received training in Germany or at seminars conducted by German instructors in Belarus, the newspaper says.
"If opposition activists in Minsk are again beaten up with batons by Lukashenka’s security forces, we will at least know where Belarusian police perfected themselves in their profession," said Jan Korte, a member of the Die Linke (The Left) group in the Bundestag, according to Der Spiegel.
Bild has reported that the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) group will initiate a parliamentary hearing on the relations of the Bereitschaftspolizei (Germany’s support and rapid reaction police units) with the Belarusian police.
"Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich should account to the Committee on Internal Affairs," Bild quotes Michael Hartmann of the SPD group as saying. "He should explain whether the state of affairs was concealed from the parliament and on what grounds, and whether the interior ministry deliberately misinformed the parliament."
According to Bild, as far back as the summer of 2010, the German foreign ministry developed serious doubts regarding the cooperation that was established between the police forces of Germany and Belarus in 2008. The ministry emailed "various critical questions" to the police and received "evasive answers."
The newspaper says that the Bundestag was in fact kept in obscurity regarding German-Belarusian police cooperation. In reply to an inquiry made by the Die Linke group in late 2011, the interior ministry said that the cooperation was in the first instance aimed at maintaining security and order during large-scale sports events as Belarus was to host the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship. The ministry denied that Belarusian police officers had been trained to break up protests and claimed that the cooperation was ended in late 2010. However, according to Bild, four more training seminars, two in Germany and two in Belarus, took place before October 2011. An unnamed source at the interior ministry explained that those seminars were intended to complete cooperation projects started before, and that some "isolated local" contacts continued to take place.
According to Bild, "at least one major and one captain" of Belarus underwent training in Germany in August 2010 and one of the objectives was training in dispersing large-scale demonstrations and making purposeful arrests of leaders.
Last month Interior Minister Friedrich dismissed Matthias Seeger from his position as president of the German federal police. According to German media reports, Mr. Seeger’s contacts with authorities in Belarus may have been one of the reasons for his dismissal.