Updated at 17:11,20-07-2018

Interior minister: We collect evidence for criminal cases against 20 mercenaries

Zmicier Lukashuk, Euroradio

Euroradio: There are reports that the Interior Ministry has begun to deal with those fighting in Donbas

Ihar Shunevich: We are not talking about opening a criminal case yet. Currently, we are busy collecting materials. If there are enough grounds, investigators will have to open a criminal case or refuse from it. It depends on how well we will work. Now we are collecting materials. They will be sent soon to the investigation units.

Euroradio: Where do you get information from?

Ihar Shunevich: First of all, [we take information from] open sources. Secondly, there are objective data like photos in the media including in the internet. Witnesses are questioned. In other words, we use our usual set of tools to collect information. We are collecting information about approximately 20 people.

Euroradio: Does it matter for you what side a Belarusian citizen is taking in the conflict: for Ukraine or for the so called DPR/LPR? Will it matter if a person committed "war crimes' while in Donbas?

Ihar Shunevich: It does not matter what side a persion is fighting for. What matters is whether this person violates the laws of Belarus or not. Therefore, there are both those fighting for the government of Ukraine and those fighting for DPR/LPR. It is hard to say whether the fact of committing war crimes will matter for a court ruling I think we will look into possible mercenarism charges. If charges of mercenarism are confirmed, I would not rule out criminal prosecution.

Euroradio: Are materials being collected on those who are currently in Donbas or those who have returned back to Belarus?

Ihar Shunevich: We collect information in order to prove the guilt of those who took part illegally in the armed hostilities. We take into account any information we have in our possession now, including information from media. Every fact will be assessed by law.

Euroradio: Do you have information about the total number of Belarusians that take pary in the armed hostilities in Ukraine?

Ihar Shunevich: Yes. They are not many - around 100 people. Well, at least they are those we are aware of. You may understand that we may not know everything. It does not mean that criminal charges for mercenarism will be brought against all of them. Everyone will be evaluated by law depending on the evidence gathered. If investigators take the decision that there is enough evidence to open a criminal case, only the will it be decided about opening the case. If there is not enough evidence, additional investigation and checks will be carried out.