41-year-old Belarusian citizen Yuri Garavski has applied for political asylum in Switzerland, Deutsche Welle reports.
The man who earlier claimed his being involved in the the so-called death squad’s activity in Belarus believes that there is no point in hiding his whereabouts.
“Keeping my family under observation, they [Belarusian authorities] have no difficulty in identifying my phone number. And the number includes a country code. They must have done that long ago,” Garavski stressed.
According to the former member of the Belarusian SOBR (Special Rapid Response Unit), he is ready to be punished for taking part in the assassinations of Belarus’ former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, an ex-chairman of the Central Election Commission, and businessman Anatol Krasouski. However, he wants to be tried in a European country, not in Belarus.
Yuri Garavski arrived in Switzerland in October, 2018. He has not revealed the details of his departure. His case is being considered, but the man says he still fears for his life.
“For many years, I had been afraid that they would start to kill or jail us one after one. Even now I cannot rule out that someone will come from Belarus to do away with me. But here [in Europe], I have a chance to survive,” he added.
In the early 2000s, after the disappearance of Yury Zakharanka, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, there were reports about the so-called ‘death squads’ that abduct and kill the dissidents. In 2004, the European Union imposed personal sanctions on four persons who might have been involved in or aware of the kidnappings – former Interior Minister Uladzimir Naumau, former head of the presidential administration Viktar Sheyman, Yury Sivakou, who occupied the post of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs during the disappearance of politicians, and Dzmitry Paulichenka, commander of the special forces brigade of the Interior Ministry.
In mid December, the German media outlet Deutsche Welle made public the interview with Garavski. The interviewee said he had been with the Belarusian SOBR from its very beginning, and had been trained to fight serious offenders involved in organized crime.
If his words are anything to go by, the orders were given by Colonel Dzmitry Paulichenka (Dmitry Pavlichenko), the founder and commander of SOBR. What is more, the top officer personally shot down the three critics of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Garavski claims. The man expressed confidence that the then Interior Minister Yury Sivakou and Security Council Secretary Viktar Sheyman knew what was going on behind the scenes; Garavski suggests that President Lukashenka must have been in the picture, but cannot say safely.