Updated at 14:38,23-10-2020

Scandal with Austrian lobbyists of Lukashenka

Kurier, an Austrian newspaper, critically attacked the Austrian MFA because of the fact, that former federal officials and politicians who had compromised themselves, still use their diplomatic passports, Radio Liberty reports.

One of them, Hubert Gorbach, a former minister of transport and Vice-Chancellor of Austria and now the head of Gorbach Consulting firm and a consultant for Wintertechnik Engeneering. Both companies have a number of projects in Russia and Belarus relating to snow technologies and infrastructure at winter resorts.

Gorbach confirmed in an interview to Kurier he has a diplomatic passport and said it is a generally accepted practice to issue such documents as a bonus to former high-ranking officials and politicians.

The name of the former Austrian vice-chancellor and minister of transport began to appear in press in various scandals – from drunk driving to suspicion of corruption and accusations of friendship with authoritarian regimes, including the regime of Lukashenka.

In December 2010, Gorbach was invited as an observer and "honourable figure in international politics" (as said by Belarusian foreign minister Syarhei Martynau) to the presidential elections in Belarus. Estimating the elections results, Gorbach told Belarusian and Austrian media that at the polling station he worked "Lukashenka polled about 70% of the vote, which is close to the final outcome".

Regarding the events following the elections, "the honourable figure in the international politics" said:

"The protesters tried to storm the election commission headquarters. The windows were broken. I am sure everyone has a right to defend himself. Furthermore, the basic principle of democracy is the consent with the majority. I heard that the demonstrations were planned in advance, regardless of the vote results".

Some months later, in spring 2011, Gorbach told Associated Press, when driven into a corner by questions about his cooperation with the Belarusian regime, that he condemns "violence in all its forms". He assured he had been in a hotel room after the December elections in Minsk and heard nothing about the brutal police crackdown on the protest demonstration.