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Trial of Lukashenka's ex-security agent

Today, September 19, 2023, in the Swiss city of St. Gallen, a criminal trial commenced in a local court against Yury Garavsky, a former member of the Belarusian SOBR special forces unit. The legal team of the National Anti-Crisis Management and the NAM Deputy Head, Artsiom Brukhan, are in attendance at the trial.

Yury Garavsky
Yury Garavsky

Yury Garavsky was a member of a special unit commonly referred to as the "death squad," which was involved in the elimination of Lukashenka's political opponents. He is being charged with the crime of "forced disappearance."

Specifically, Yury Garavsky stands accused of forcibly abducting former Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Zakharanka, former Deputy Prime Minister Viktar Hanchar, and businessman Anatoly Krasouski between May and September 1999.

This marks the first instance of a Belarusian citizen facing trial for enforced disappearance under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Additionally, it is the first time that Switzerland has utilized a special provision within its own legal framework to criminalize such acts.

These developments have been made possible by Switzerland's steadfast commitment to upholding its international obligations and its willingness to employ the existing mechanisms of universal jurisdiction outlined in the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Pavel Latushka, the Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, offered his comments on Yury Garavsky's trial:

"The National Anti-Crisis Management, in collaboration with our partners, is actively working to stimulate and initiate similar proceedings in Lithuania and Poland for crimes against humanity committed by representatives of the Lukashenka regime against the civilian population of Belarus since May 2020.

The topic of criminal prosecution based on the principle of universal jurisdiction was a primary focus during our meetings yesterday at the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. Today's trial in Switzerland serves as a testament that justice prevails, no matter the duration. The names of those who perished under Lukashenka's orders will forever haunt the Belarusian dictator.

Perhaps this process will inspire other nations to ensure justice for the thousands of victims of ongoing crimes against humanity perpetrated in Belarus over the past three years."



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