Updated at 14:54,16-10-2020

Dismissals in MIA: combating corruption or dividing the spheres of influence?


Coming from the KGB, Igor Shunevich is appointed today as First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, replacing Oleg Pekarsky, who was dismissed yesterday "because of misconduct, discrediting the rank of a police officer".

UDF.BY correspondent asked the politician and General-Lieutenant Mechyslau Gryb, and also the former investigator and human right defender Oleg Volchek to comment on these personnel reshuffles and on the recent dismissal of another Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Evgeny Poluden.

Mechyslau Gryb associates the resignations first of all with the law violation:

"A few months ago there were rumors, that Pekarsky was going to resign from the internal affairs and himself sent in his papers. But somehow he wasn't fired at that time, but was fired now. So, I think really there were some actions on his part, contrary to the requirements to the MIA officers. Today, I don't know which, but after a couple of days, I think they will be announced. Therefore, relatively frequent changes in administrative apparatus of MIA are caused by corruption and different disorders. This department is at the center of great attention of both the public and the authorities".

The politician drew parallels with Poluden's case, which was subject to criminal proceedings and the inquiry is now in progress : "I think, here also will be some specific charges, but I don't know whether they'll be the criminal ones".

As General-Lieutenant of police Mechyslau Grib noted, the very specific kind of activity of the Belarusian MIA officers often induces them to break the law:

"The point is, that these people in virtue of their rank, have often followed the directions and orders, which go beyond the law. And when people do illegal orders of other superior people, then sooner or later they will also start to think: "Why others can err from law, but we can not?" And they break the law. This is vicious practice".

The former investigator, head of the Human Rights Center "Legal Assistance to Population" (in Kiev) Oleg Volchek is not entirely agree with this view. He believes, the main reason for dismissal is redivision the spheres of influence in law enforcement agencies, and he also notes the nonrandomness of Pekarsky's retirement.

"I've already mentioned, that "old-laying" staff are now being removed - they're good professionals. Never mind, they worked badly on December 19, came into the spotlight with their provocations. But in general, as a police operative, for example, I know Pekarsky for a long time, and he always was of good account. But since last year we've noticed the tendency of change in the entire law enforcement system: chief medical examiner of Belarus Gusakov was changed, Head of "Almaz" Karpenko, Prosecutor General Vasilevich, Minister of Justice Golovanov ... Now the turn of MIA, and for us it was no secret. We communicate with people, and know that not the "close to Naumov" people are being prepared for MIA, after all, and Pekarsky, and Poluden, and Kuleshov are all from Vladimir Naumov team. Here you can see today's appointment of a person from the KGB".

Probably, another factor played the role in relation to Pekarsky.

"Concerning Pekarsky, everything is because of - however, we are still checking - he stood up for the operatives, so their wages was to be raised due to inflation. It caused a scandal. In this system (I don't mean MIA, but the state system) they don't like defenders. And here, redivision the spheres of influence is going on. Now we see, that investigation is left for KGB, although one should mention, this function was taken away from the prosecutors office and the police. And the prosecutors office have always been on a high level of solved cases and professionalism - I speak as the former investigator. Why? Everything goes to one: the concentration of power in one hands", the human rights defender said.

Mechyslau Grib agrees, the current Interior Minister Anatoly Kuleshov is unlikely to enjoy such reshuffles, he has just flew in business trip to French Lyon on Tuesday.

"I think Kuleshov is worrying, they're his inner circle, his mates. And if things stand, the head of any agency is not free to choose his deputies. Therefore, there is no unified team. He can stay with one candidate, and will be offered another - and he would have to agree".

Oleg Volchek, in his turn, suggested that current interior minister soon retires for good.

"He's really sick, and I think, he may soon leave the service. I just don't know how: resignation or in reserve, is he a pensioner or not ... And the reason is not in a disease: probably, he just won't work well with new people".