Human rights organization Human Constanta, as part of its effort to promote the idea of antidiscrimination, analyzed the “List of Organizations and Individuals Involved in Terrorist Activities” (hereinafter – the List) – and provides an analytical note on this topic.
The list is formed and maintained by the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter – KGB). The up-to-date List is publicly available on the website of this body in the section “Counterterrorism activities“. The List consists of two tabs – the list of organizations and the list of individuals. The List currently contains a total of 394 organizations and 765 individuals (as of May 6, 2021).
Compilation and maintenance of the List is regulated by the Decree of the Council of Ministers from 30 December 2014 No. 1256 “On approval of the Regulations on the procedure for determining the List of organizations and individuals, including individual entrepreneurs, involved in terrorist activities, for appealing the decision to include organizations, individuals, including individual entrepreneurs, into such a List and for considering other appeals by these organizations, individuals, including individual entrepreneurs, for bringing this List to the attention of persons carrying out financial transactions and of a financial monitoring body” (as amended on October 30, 2014).
According to this Decree, the List can include:
● organizations, regardless of the presence (absence) of state registration and actual location;
● citizens of the Republic of Belarus;
● foreign citizens, stateless persons;
● individual entrepreneurs irrespective of the place of their state registration and actual location.
The List is kept in only one state language – Russian. The names of organizations and individuals included in the List are indicated in the Russian language, as well as in Latin transliteration.
Inclusion in the List is made by decision of the Chairman of the KGB and his deputies. On the day of updating, the List shall be sent to the state authorities responsible for conducting financial transactions, as well as to the Administration of the High Technology Park and the Belarusian Interbank Settlement Centre.
There are six grounds in total for inclusion on the List. Until recently, the most common ground for inclusion on the List was inclusion on the relevant lists of organizations or persons involved in terrorist activities, by international organizations or their bodies. In particular, the main specialized body on this issue is the United Nations Security Council (hereinafter – the UN). The basis for inclusion in the Sanctions List of the UN Security Council Committee is used for inclusion in the national list in the absolute majority of cases.
Another reason for inclusion on the List is the direct decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus on the recognition of the organization as terrorist (extremist), prohibition of its activities on the territory of Belarus and its liquidation.
Moreover, both Belarusian as well as foreign and even international organizations can be recognized as terrorist. Furthermore, in the presence of a corresponding treaty between the countries, the grounds for inclusion can be a decision of a court or other competent body of a foreign state. These grounds have not yet been applied when updating the List.
It is also possible to be included in the List by a court verdict on conviction for committing a crime under the “extremist” articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, which include such crimes as: acts of terrorism, incitement of discord, use of weapons of mass destruction, creation of an armed formation, financing and assisting terrorist activities, causing harm to national security. Moreover, the category of “extremism” also includes actions to participate or organize mass riots.
It is possible to be included in the List not only by a court verdict, but also by a ruling to bring a person to trial. In this case we can talk about gross violation of the presumption of innocence, enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, as well as in Article 16 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, because the List can include (and currently includes) people whose guilt is not confirmed by a relevant court decision, that is, who are essentially innocent at the moment of inclusion in the List, even despite their procedural status of the accused.
There is a judicial appeal procedure for inclusion in the List, but we are not aware of its use in practice. An organization or a person can also be excluded from the List due to the cancellation of decisions of national courts, foreign courts and international bodies, as well as in case of changes in their content. Furthermore, an organization may be excluded from the List upon providing evidence of its liquidation, as well as a person upon termination of his or her criminal prosecution or death.
Who is considered “terrorist” on the List (765 people)
The individuals tab of the List includes government officials of the DPRK and Iran, related to the nuclear programs in those countries. The List also includes many people from Iraq, who were found to be involved in terrorist activities in 2003. There are also a large number of people from Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, Eritrea), the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait), South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India), and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, the Philippines). The List also includes people with citizenship of Great Britain, Russia, Germany, France, and Georgia. In total, there are more than 700 people in this part of the List, where there were no citizens of the Republic of Belarus before the fall of 2020.
In November 2020, for the first time, the KGB of Belarus included the founder of the Nexta and Nexta Live Telegram channels Stepan Putilo and the former editor-in-chief of these channels Roman Protasevich in the List. The body explained its actions by the fact that these persons are accused of organizing mass riots. Stepan Putilo and Roman Protasevich were not notified of such accusations.
On February 12, 2021, the KGB updated the List: this time the List was was extended to include 17 people, all of whom are Belarusians. They are charged under Article 289 of the Criminal Code (“Act of Terrorism”) of the Republic of Belarus. There were five women and twelve men, some of whom comprise entire families. Almost all of the people on this List were already in custody. The principle by which these citizens were added to the List was also not further explained. It is assumed that all these persons are classified under the aforementioned article either as members of the so-called “Autukhovich’s group” or “Olinevich’s group”.
On April 2, 2021 the List was again extended with 17 more people who, in contrast to the first precedent, belonged to the most diverse strata of the Belarusian opposition.
The List was most recently extended to include:
– ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya;
– Pavel Latushko, head of the National Anti-Crisis Management (NAM) and member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council;
– Svetlana Hilko, responsible for reforming the Interior Ministry in the NAM;
– popular opposition blogger Anton Motolko, whose Telegram channel was declared extremist on March 29, 2021;
– Igor Makar, former deputy head of the Almaz Special Anti-Terrorism Unit;
– Viachaslau Maleichuk, who, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus (hereinafter – MIA), planted an explosive device in a trash can near a playground in the capital, and transported another device to Barysau district;
– representatives of the BYPOL initiative Stanislav Yakimenko (police lieutenant colonel, former security officer of GUBOPiK), Sergei Chubukov (investigator of the Investigative Committee), Oleg Talerchik (former employee of the Prosecutor’s General Office), Sergei Makar (former soldier of the Special Purpose Police Unit (further – OMON), brother of Igor Makar), Igor Loban (former investigator of particularly important cases of the Investigative Committee), Sergei Kurochkin (police major), Matvei Kupreichik (former security officer of the Department of Internal Affairs), Vladimir Zhigar (former security officer of criminal investigation), Alexander Azarov (former lecturer of the Department of Operative Investigation Activity of the Faculty of Police of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), Stanislav Luponosov (security officer of the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (further – GUBOPiK), Andrei Ostapovich (former senior investigator of the Investigative Committee) and Mikhail Kutsko (security officer of the Department for Drug Control and Combating Human Trafficking).
Information about the criminal cases against Vladimir Gundar and Artur Popok is known only from the film of the state television channel “TNT of the protest“. It is known from there that they are accused of helping Mikalai Autukhovich to buy and transport weapons. The film claims that Artur Popok “went with him to Kiyv for this, and Vladimir Snegur helped illegally cross the border”. Popok managed to leave the country, but Gundar and Snegur were arrested (we do not know their location).
It is worth noting that since August 2020 additions were made only to the list of Individuals, when the list of organizations remained the same.
Entities Listed (394 entries)
The List includes a variety of entities, including North Korean (DPRK) government agencies, such as the Department of Propaganda and Agitation or the General Bureau of Atomic Energy, the DPRK military, North Korean and Iranian organizations involved in illicit trade, ballistic missile and other weapons production. A number of Islamist groups (for example, various branches of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and Boko Haram), as well as the companies that sponsor their activities, are on the List. The List contains not only organizations in Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic), the Middle East (Syria, Iraq) and South Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan), where there are regular terrorist threats and challenges, but also organizations from the UK, whose members are involved in terrorist activities.
The procedure for listing organizations can be seen in the large number of organizations marked as being in Iraq and listed in the 2003 UN Security Council resolution. The List for May 6, 2021 does not include organizations recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Belarusian courts, but only those introduced on other procedural grounds.
The Republic of Belarus has ratified all conventions on countering terrorism and actively participates in the discussion of anti-terrorist programs within the UN, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, despite the absence of pronounced terrorist tendencies in Belarus. At the same time, international legal documents do not contain a clear definition of “terrorism,” and the Law of the Republic of Belarus of January 3, 2002, No. 77-3 “On Combating Terrorism” gives an overly broad definition of terrorist activity.
Initially, the List was used to implement international obligations to combat terrorism and was based on the practices of a number of countries. The List included people and organizations whose activities were condemned by the international community. Since November 2020, the List has been used for political purposes – opponents of the current de-facto authorities are increasingly put on it.