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Karpenkov is the new Prigozhin

Pavel Latushka: Deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

Recently, it has come to light that fighters from the notorious PMC "Wagner" are already serving in the so-called internal forces of the Republic of Belarus.

Russian propagandist Konstantin Pridybailo published a post with a photo of the militants' symbols and stated that the Wagnerites had become part of the Tornado special forces group. "In Belarus, 'Wagner' joined the ranks of the special forces of the internal troops," wrote the propagandist from the so-called Russian media Russia Today on his page.

Simultaneously, photos emerged from military unit 3310 in Minsk, where the flag of PMC "Wagner" is seen flying alongside the red-green flag and the banner of the special forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The creator of the above-mentioned "Tornado" division is Nikolai Karpenkov. This person is well known to Belarusians. Back in August 2020, everyone remembers how he frantically smashed the glass of one of the Minsk cafes, and this was perhaps the only case of vandalism during the peaceful protests of Belarusians in 2020.

Karpenkov compared himself and his colleagues to fallen angels and directly called to kill and beat up protesters using traumatic weapons: "Either beat, mutilate, or kill them." Use the weapon directly in the forehead, directly in the face, directly there, after which he will never return to the state in which he was. Well, if they save him, good for him. If he won't have half a brain - that's his problem." This is a quote.

On October 3, 2022, during an STV channel broadcast, Karpenkov declared that democratically minded Belarusians are "really mad dogs who deserve only one thing - death." In March 2023, he explicitly stated the identity of the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, saying, "We are the heirs of the NKVD troops, and we are very proud of it."

Karpenkov ostentatiously tries to present himself as an admirer of Lukashenko, but here we will disappoint those who consider Karpenkov their subordinate. The main ideal of a statesman for him is not Lukashenko at all, but Putin. And the "homeland" that the so-called general constantly mentions is not Belarus, but Russia. Karpenkov is a longtime admirer of the ideas of the so-called "Russian world". Back when Karpenkov was in charge of GUBOPiK, it became fashionable to place Russian flags in all the offices of this division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In the middle of March last year, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Commander of Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Karpenkov, stated that the Russian army is the successor of the Soviet army. He said, "The Russian army is invincible. We are allies, and our army, together with Russia's, is invincible."

During the summer of 2023, one of the channels affiliated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus published a photo of Nikolay Karpenkov's visit to the camp of PMC "Wagner" near the village of Cel near Osipovichi. The photos were likely taken on July 20.

Nikolai Karpenkov at the Wagner PMCs camp
Nikolai Karpenkov at the Wagner PMCs camp Source:

At that time, Karpenkov mentioned that he had met Yevgeny Prigozhin in Belarus in the first days after the rebellion. He said, "We decided on our interaction, contacts were given, and based on these contacts, we met here with the second, third, and fourth person in PMC 'Wagner'.

“The interaction is not only about conducting classes, it is necessary to conduct classes in such a way that it leads to one-time combat coordination. So that from the first minutes, as soon as we start our exercises, we can enter the battle together, shoulder to shoulder, the next day," Karpenkov explained the upcoming work and referred to the Wagnerians as "heroes."

In the same interview, Karpenkov admitted to having a close connection with the leadership of PMC "Wagner," an organization closely associated with the Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the FSB of Russia.

Karpenkov's special forces training program includes classes with instructors from PMC "Wagner," covering equipment adjustment, fire and medical training, and small-group tactics. The militants of PMC have even shared their experience in using artillery. Additionally, according to Karpenkov, joint combat groups were formed with the involvement of the Wagnerites.

"In general, I think the work will be interesting and very productive. Well, we will see the results later," said an anonymous instructor from PMC "Wagner" in an interview with the STV channel. So, what should we expect to see? What did Karpenkov and his friends from "Wagner" have in mind? Who are they really planning to fight tomorrow? Or perhaps they aim to replicate the "feat" of Prigozhin?

Under Karpenkov's orders, new divisions involving Wagnerites, consisting of 70 or more individuals, were created in Grodno, Brest, Ostrovets, Gomel, and other cities throughout Belarus. It appears that Lukashenko initially intended to place the Wagnerites in one location at the camp near Osipovichi. However, thanks to Karpenkov, they are now dispersed throughout the republic, making it extremely difficult to track them, even for Lukashenko's own special services.

The new "Smerch" special forces unit currently consists of 300 "main" and 150 "reserve" personnel. There is also a subdivision called "Rys" (“Lynx” in English) dedicated to border work, comprising "200-300 people," along with a detachment named "Chest" (“Honor” in English). In total, there are 1,500 security forces within these new units, essentially forming a regiment. A division is expected to be established soon, and all these individuals are under Karpenkov's direct command.

Karpenkov appeared at the exercises with the chevron of the Wagner PMCs
Karpenkov appeared at the exercises with the chevron of the Wagner PMCs. Source:

Already in early May of this year, Karpenkov announced the creation of three additional combat units: "Storm" in Brest, "Typhoon" in Grodno, and "Buran" in Gomel. He speculated that if tens of thousands of Wagnerites were enough for a march on Moscow, then two thousand would be sufficient for a march on Minsk.

In addition to the special forces units, Karpenkov has been actively establishing what he calls "children's military-patriotic clubs" across all the country. Currently, there are more than 18 of these clubs, where teenagers are subjected to intensive re-education with the ideology of the "Russian world."

Karpenkov organized the recent "Meeting of military-patriotic clubs of Belarus and Russia," which featured like-minded individuals such as Azarenok, Gigin, Lusch, and others who share the ideology of the "Russian world."

A group of propagandists supportive of Karpenkov has formed around him. Grigoriy Azarenok, who practically acts as his personal "military commander," actively promotes Karpenkov. Azarenok has appeared in a music video dedicated to PMC "Wagner," and he frequently travels to the occupied territories of Ukraine. He now hosts a program for the controversial Russian propagandist Soloviev and openly receives Russian funding, suggesting whose interests he defends.

In May of this year, Karpenkov was congratulated by honored guests, including Vadim Gigin, Alexander Shpakovsky, and Grigory Azarenok, who are all known Russophiles. Karpenkov also maintains contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church and representatives of Russian propaganda. Even Konstantin Pridybailo, a notable figure, referred to Karpenkov as a "good-natured patriot."

It is important to understand that Prigozhin's empire, which includes PMC "Wagner," is not just a military structure but also a network of bot farms, propagandists, and political technologists. In a matter of months, they transformed Prigozhin from a criminal and Putin's cook into a popular politician in Russia. Now, these political technologists and advisers are helping Nikolai Karpenkov build the image of a promising pro-Russian politician, along with his small army.

Despite his feigned piety and ostentatious devotion to the regime, Karpenkov is believed to be a greedy, cunning, and ambitious man. He harbors a sense of ambition, likely fueled by the repeated humiliations he endured from Lukashenko, even when he served in the dictator's security service.

Karpenkov's inferiority complex, thirst for revenge, and the belief that he has a "historical chance" make him a potentially effective candidate within Lukashenko's entourage who could neutralize the dictator under favorable circumstances, possibly with support or a signal from the Kremlin.

Lukashenko, relying on the power structures, particularly GUBOPiK, has systematically destroyed and continues to suppress any nationally and democratically oriented forces within Belarus. The dictator fully supports Karpenkov in the destruction of dissent, relying on his complete loyalty and devotion.

In essence, Lukashenko has built a real army of thugs who are ready to carry out any order, even outside the borders of Belarus. The question remains: what will Lukashenko do if the new Prigozhin, Karpenkov, decides to move his fighters to Lukashenko's residence? The answer to this question remains uncertain.

Karpenkov's vision for Belarus raises concerns. As early as 2020, he proposed the creation of concentration camps for Belarusians, illustrating his bleak view of the future like this: "A special camp for cloven-hooved creatures, for their resettlement. And put barbed wire around the perimeter. Two rooms should be made: a room with a fire furnace, and another room to feed them. And they must work, of course." That’s how Nikolai Karpenkov, Governor-General of the Northwestern part of Russia, envisioned the future of Belarus. 

It is worth noting that PMC "Wagner" is headed by a businessman created by the Kremlin, who essentially still controls the militants. Therefore, the Kremlin is also a significant beneficiary of elevating the new Prigozhin, Karpenkov, in Belarus.

It appears that Lukashenko is content with the idea of Belarus becoming the Northwestern part of Russia. To prolong his hold on power, he obediently carries out the Kremlin's wishes.

All of the above provides a basis for drawing certain conclusions: Lukashenko comprehends that the Kremlin will likely cease to require his services in the near future. However, there is a possibility that the need for Karpenkov's services may arise soon.

Consequently, the following question arises:

Is Lukashenko afraid of Karpenkov?



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