Political scientist Dzermant: “I think this extraordinary operation will go down in the history of the special services”
The Belarusian TV channel ONT told a story about how Belarusian state security agents allegedly recruited activist Oleg Aksenov, who moved to Poland in 2022. KGB officers pretended to be employees of the Audit Chamber of the European Union and offered Aksenov a job: to monitor how Belarusian oppositionists use local grants. For a whole year, the oppositionist did not know who he was working for; in fact, he sent reports on the activities of his colleagues.
59-year-old Oleg Aksenov is from Mogilev and is a supporter of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party. Now he lives in Poland. Last year, KGB agents tracked him down. They introduced themselves as employees of the EU Accounts Chamber and offered the activist a freelance job: recording opposition events, at which, among other things, the financing of certain initiatives was discussed.
Aksenov recorded about four such events; the main information for the KGB was the data of participants from among Belarusian emigrants in Poland.
Aksenov’s work in Warsaw did not work out; at some point he decided to move to Norway. Then the KGB decided to wind down the operation. The story ended with the appearance in Zoom of an online security seminar for activists in exile by the deputy head of the investigative department of the State Security Committee, Konstantin Bychek.
“First of all, on behalf of the State Security Committee, I would like to thank citizen Aksenov for his long and fruitful cooperation with us. As for other participants in the seminar, I draw your attention to the fact that attempts to encroach on Belarusian statehood in civilized countries are called extremism and are qualified under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus,” Bychek said, inviting all participants in the event to return to Belarus and repent.
This is how Aksenov first learned that he had been leaking information to the KGB all this time. He told the press that he did not provide secret information to the KGB because he did not have access to it: “All this information, in fact, is worth nothing, because it was in the public domain.
I was asked all the time about the financial component. But since I was not an event organizer, there was no information in this regard. Therefore, I simply indicated that the event took place and so many people were present.”
However, he denies that he recorded conversations with oppositionists on a voice recorder. However, he sent the curators a video with license plates of cars in a service parking lot near the buildings of the Polish special services.
How useful was the data received by the KGB of Belarus from Aksenov, MK spoke with political scientist Alexei Dzermant:
— For a year, the man thought that he was working for some European auditors, collected information about the affairs of the Belarusian opposition and passed it on to the KGB. I think this extraordinary operation, when they secretly used an opposition movement activist, will go down in history. It could also demoralize opposition members abroad. They must understand that the Belarusian state has access to their plans.
— Why do the Belarusian authorities need information about the participation of emigrants in certain events? Some media outlets published a list of participants' names.
- Well, they’re not discussing the weather or stamp collecting there. They gather at these events for political purposes. And their main goal is to overthrow the government of Belarus. Some of them, of course, are just wagging their tongues, but others may be actively preparing for sabotage actions and attacks. Some have already tried to carry out sabotage on the territory of the country, but these attempts could not be carried out thanks to the actions of the KGB.
So this is normal work of any intelligence services. They must know what these people are doing there, where the funding is coming from, who they are working for - this is normal practice in order to ensure the security of the state.