- Common repressive situation for conscientious objectors in Belarus.
- New repressive legislation worsening the rights of conscientious objectors in Belarus.
- Some cases of persecution of Belarusian conscientious objectors in Belarus.
- Child political prisoner for taking pictures and transmitting information about the movement of Putin’s troops in Belarus.
- Boarding military schools for boys (including orphans) in Belarus promoting the ideology of the “russian world”.
- Children’s militarization in Belarus and preparation of children for participation in warfare on Russia’s side.
- Lukashenka is creating paramilitary bodies and calls them “people’s militia”
Common repressive situation for conscientious objectors in Belarus
According to the law «On military duty and military service» in the Republic of Belarus, an appeal on fixed-term military service is subject to men aged between 18 and 27 years, who are registered or obliged to register in military records and not serving in the reserves. The Belarusian army today has 48,000 soldiers and 12,000 border guards.
Every young man in Belarus is obliged to serve in the Belarusian army if he has no medical contraindications or official deferment. People with higher education must serve for a year, without higher education – for a year and a half. The conscription into the army is conducted twice a year: in spring and in autumn. Every year about 10 thousand young men are called up to compulsory military service in Belarus.
Due to all the events related to the war, from the beginning of 2022 until today, on the one hand, the Belarusian authorities have been paying increased attention to conscription and increasing the number of conscripts (for example, by easing the medical requirements for military service). On the other hand, more and more Belarusians themselves are actively avoiding conscription and military service.
Article 435 of the Criminal Code of Belarus criminalizes evading military service. Part 1 of this article stipulates a fine, arrest, restriction of liberty for up to two years or imprisonment for the same term. In the case of evading conscription by willfully inflicting oneself an injury, simulation of sickness, forgery of documents, or other deceit, Part 2 of the above-mentioned article applies. It carries a penalty of restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for the same period.
On the whole, the Criminal Code has several articles that stipulate criminal liability for evading military conscription: evasion from call-up to military service on the mobilization (Art. 434), evasion of regular call-up to active military service (Art. 435), failure of a reservist or person liable for military service to appear for military training or special classes (Art. 436), avoidance of military registration by a conscript or person liable for military duty (Art. 437). The punishment is various: a fine, arrest, restriction of liberty for up to five years or imprisonment for the same term.
Overall, in Belarus, the number of criminal cases related to evasion of both conscription and military service is not publicized, as it is classified information. However, it is known, for example, that in 2022, in Minsk, 79 individuals were prosecuted for these offenses, with the majority (96.2%) for evading regular call-up to active military service. Convicted individuals received various penalties, with the most commonly used punishments being community service and fines, but nine of those convicted were given suspended sentences with deprivation of liberty.
The head of the conscription department of the military commissariat of Grodno and the Grodno district Mikhail Pozdnyakov also spoke about the fact that not all evaders’ cases became public. In particular, he told the Grodnenskaya Pravda regional newspaper that, on average, 20-25 residents of Grodno and Grodno region became evaders of military service during each conscription campaign. According to him, the main reason for non-appearance of those liable for military service to the military registration and enlistment office is “fear of serving in the army”. Mikhail Pozdnyakov emphasized that after receiving a summons, some evaders left for the EU countries, which, in their turn, refused to extradite the evaders to Belarussian side, referring to the absence of criminal liability for evading service in the Belarusian army.
The International Center for Civil Initiatives Our House reports about 400 criminal cases related to draft evasion within the Belarusian Army in 2022.
Conscription is used as one of the frequent repressive practices of the Belarusian regime for young male protest activists.
The Belarusian army is often criticized for its harsh conditions and poor treatment of soldiers. Those who are conscripted serve for a year to a year and a half and have limited means of communication. There are reports of propaganda, torture, and prohibitions, and family visits are infrequent. For instance, if a soldier is caught with a mobile phone, they can face punishment that includes 15 days in solitary confinement. Sadly, the oppressive environment, humiliation, and abuse in the Belarusian army have led to cases of suicide and extrajudicial executions.
The new repressive legislation worsening the rights of conscientious objectors and children’s militarization in Belarus
On May 2022, Lukashenko issued decree №160 “On the development of military-patriotic clubs,” which allowed the creation of such clubs for children in all military units and partially resolved the issue of financing. The majority of these camps are being established on the premises of military units, border guards, and Interior Ministry troops. The document regulates the activities of military-patriotic clubs for children and youth on the territory of military units of Interior Ministry troops, armed forces, and other troops and military formations, as well as in places of deployment of emergency bodies and units. The decree addresses issues such as implementation of the educational program in such clubs, use of educational and material resources, and organization of catering, clothing, and ammunition provision for the trainees. The Deputy Interior Minister – Commander of the Internal Troops, Major-General Mikalai Karpiankou informed, “Today the round-the-clock military patriotic camps “Doblest”, “Patriot” and “Rodina” are operating at the premises of military units 3214, 5448 and 3310”.
On May 23, 2022, the Belarussian Defence Ministry put up for auction the procurement of tokens to identify the fallen soldiers. The auction was announced on the National Centre for Marketing website. The bid specifies that the Ministry of Defence of Belarus plans to purchase 20 thousand metal tokens with the abbreviation “Belarusian Armed Forces”. Such badges are traditionally used to identify the soldiers killed in battle.
On 4 July 2022, Alexander Lukashenko signed Ordinance № 227 “On military discharge and call-up for fixed-term military service, service in the reserves”. The document calls for the conscription into active military duty and service in the reserves of Belarusian male citizens aged between 18 and 27 on the draft day, who have no right to deferment of military service or have lost such a right. The conscription began in August and will continue until November 2022. The term of service in the Belarusian army remains the same, which is 18 months for conscripts with no higher education and 6 months for the graduates of higher educational institutions with military departments. The only people able to avoid conscription will be students of agricultural higher educational institutions (Lukashenko is a graduate of one of them), very sick people, people with three or more children, or those closely related to a deceased member of law enforcement. Additionally, a new “group for the organization of selection for military service under contract” was created to increase the staffing of soldier and sergeant positions serving under a contract and to enhance the prestige of military service. This is a new group within the structure of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus.
In July 2022, local executive committees issued regulatory acts that effectively announced the enumeration of the recruitable population of Belarus. Not only the conscripts who received the so-called “personal” draft notices had to appear at the enlistment offices, but also all male citizens aged from 18 to 65 were invited there under various pretexts (such as “document verification”). The regulatory acts required citizens over 18 years old who did not receive personal draft notices to appear at the military commissariat to undergo draft activities between August and November 30, 2022, carrying personal identification documents (see Item 11).
In July 2022, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus began examining price offers for the purchase of “body transport bags” in the amount of 1,000 pieces. Requests for price offers were sent to at least two organizations: RUE “BelSudExpertObespechenie” and the funeral services company LLC “Fister”.
On December 2022, Belarusian young men en messe are called to the military registration and enlistment offices, where all the data is checked, future conscripts are interrogated, then a mobilization order is glued directly into the military ID with indicating both the soldier’s military specialty and the new date of his appearance in the military enlistment office. However, such a mobilization order is not glued to all those liable for military service. Although it is known that previously, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus ordered a very large number of similar specific red color forms in a few printing houses.
On December 19, 2022, the online media Zerkalo reported that Belarusians were facing travel restrictions imposed by the military enlistment offices. According to information provided by Zerkalo, one of the subscribers to a chat for Belarusians in Poland wrote that he had not been allowed to leave Belarus. The man believed that the reason for this was a decision made by a military commissariat. Another Belarusian was also prohibited from leaving the country. He intended to permanently relocate abroad and obtain a PP-series passport. In order to do so, he had to close his individual entrepreneurship, pay all outstanding debts to the state and child support (if applicable), and obtain consent from the military enlistment office. Since he was prohibited from leaving the country for permanent residence, the man decided not to take any risks and crossed the border into Poland illegally.
On February 4, 2023, a joint order by the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Health was published and immediately entered into force. It amended the instruction defining the health requirements for citizens performing military duty. The new rules allow the Belarusian army to draft young men with health problems such as severe obesity (obesity of the 2nd degree), nearsightedness, hemorrhoids without prolapse, mild asthma, certain types of flatfoot and foot deformities, endocrine disorders, nutritional disorders, heart and nervous system diseases, as well as spinal and skin ailments. In other words, almost anyone can be conscripted into the army.
On February 15, 2023, the Ministry of Justice of Belarus became concerned about the procedure for destroying secret documents and archives in case of war or martial law.
On February 21, 2023, the deputies of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly (which is fully controlled by Lukashenka) approved amendments to the Criminal Code, including criminal liability for discrediting the army and the death penalty for high treason. Before that, a draft law had been adopted “On Amendments to the Criminal Code”. The objective of preparing the draft law was to take proactive measures against offenses of extremist or terrorist character by introducing amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Mentioning “offenses of extremist or terrorist character” directly indicates who the new amendments to the Criminal Code are adopted against and clearly shows that Lukashenka is trying to suppress any contacts between human rights defenders, media, and members of the armed forces, threatening the latter with the probability of the death penalty.
The press service of the House of Representatives indicated that the draft law “On the amendment of criminal codes” was needed to produce a “deterrent effect on destructive elements” (the term used by the Belarusian regime’s propaganda to refer to human rights defenders and independent media in exile) and “to demonstrate a decisive fight against high treason”.
The Article 369-1 of the Criminal Code is supplemented by a qualifying factor providing for the «establishment of responsibility for dissemination of knowingly false information discrediting the Armed Forces, other troops and military formations, paramilitary organizations of the Republic of Belarus».
Also, new articles have been added, including Article 289-1 “Propaganda of terrorism” (which the Belarusian regime typically uses to label the dissemination of any information about the activities of human rights organizations and independent media in exile that it has deemed “extremist”), and Article 375-2 “Violation of requirements for the protection of state secrets.”
Now, law enforcement officials have the right to detain individuals suspected of high treason, conspiracy, espionage, agent activity, or acts of terrorism under Articles 356-358-1 of the Criminal Code for a period of 20 days from the moment of arrest.
However, the KGB informants got some relief: Article 125 of the Criminal Code was amended with a corresponding note that releases individuals from criminal liability if they participated in the preparation of an attack on an institution under international protection (meaning foreign embassies in Belarus) and assisted in preventing the crime by timely warning the state bodies or by other means.
Besides that, the Criminal Code was supplemented by Article 375-2 “Violation of the requirements for the protection of state secrets,” providing criminal liability for “intentional unlawful transfer of a holder of state secrets holding the secrets of the Republic of Belarus or foreign states, transferred to the Republic of Belarus, outside the Republic of Belarus.” In simpler terms, this means that there is criminal liability for providing any help to a serviceman attempting to escape from the army and leave the country. Providing such help to a deserter in fleeing Belarus and going abroad could result in up to 5 years of imprisonment.
On March 9, 2023, Alexander Lukashenko approved a draft law on the national home guard, which established “the legal basis for the voluntary citizen participation in the enforcement of martial law”. It was stated in the Security Council Resolution No. 2, which was published on the National Legal Internet Portal on March 6. The Minister of Defense, Viktor Khrenin, has to prepare amendments and recommendations within a month and send this draft law to the various instances for final approval by the relevant agencies. According to Lukashenko’s plans, the size of the people’s volunteer army will be between 100-150 thousand, and it is planned that militia units will be established in each district and armed with combat weapons. However, international center for civil initiatives Our House warns that only certain categories of citizens will join such a people’s volunteer army: those who write denunciations to the KGB about their neighbors for their opposition views, retired law enforcers, former officials, corruptionists, and all those who are desperately afraid of Lukashenko leaving due to the possible disclosure of one’s abuses and crimes committed within his system.
On April 3, 2023 on the Alexander Lukashenko’s order, the Ministry of Defense began another check readiness of the Belarussian Armed Forces. The overall supervision for checking was entrusted to The State Secretariat of the Belarusian Security Council. Conscripts were supposed to start arriving at military registration and enlistment offices in Belarus on April 4, 2023. However, in some places, such as Brest, military services reported that they hadn’t had enough time to prepare properly and send out summonses. As a result, men who had not served and were in the reserve were sent to deliver the summonses instead. These men were “invited” to make such urgent deliveries to military recruitment offices instead of their main jobs. Those who tried to refuse were threatened that they would face pressure and would be fired from their jobs. In particular, they were told, “We will write a report on you, and then send it to your workplace, and, as you understand, your contract won’t be renewed.”
Some cases of persecution of Belarusian conscientious objectors in Belarus
25 July 2022
The prosecutor’s office of Kobryn district transferred to court the criminal case against a 23-year-old resident of Volkovysk who violated the rules of alternative service. The young man’s military service was changed to alternative service by the decision of the military enlistment office, and from May 2020 he served in Kobryn psychoneurological boarding house for the elderly and disabled.
According to the materials of the case, the guy did not comply with service restrictions, in particular, he as a military servant was repeatedly absent at service without reasonable excuse in July and December. He was issued three reprimands. For this, the resident of Volkovysk was charged under part 1 of Art. 465-2 of the Criminal Code for evading alternative service. This part of the article implies punishment in the form of arrest (the criminal law of Belarus interprets this as incommunicado detention for a period of 1 to 3 months).
12 August 2022
In Kobryn the verdict was announced to a local resident, who was accused of evading military conscription. According to investigators, in May 2022 the man failed to appear for military training without a valid reason. The court found the resident of Kobryn guilty and sentenced him to a fine of 80 basic units (2,560 rubles).
18 August 2022
A criminal case was opened in Vitebsk against two women who tried to protect a draft dodger (their relative) from the police. Reportedly, the 21-year-old did not respond to the summons from the military enlistment office, so the police officers came for him. At first, the suspect’s mother and aunt tried to persuade the law enforcers to leave their relative alone. The policemen did not respond to this suggestion and tried to enter the house. Then the women began to push them away.
Telegram channels published a video of the incident, which was allegedly captured by a body-worn camera. The evader from military service was eventually detained, along with his mother and aunt. The women could face up to six years in prison.
30 August 2022
The Hrodna military registration and enlistment office held a show trial of a draft dodger. A young man had previously had a military service postponement in relation to education. When the grounds for the deferment expired, the young man received a summons. However, he did not show up for a medical examination at the military enlistment office on the appointed date. As a result, the commission was unable to make a decision, and a criminal case was initiated against the conscript.
The young man was tried at a mobile court session. The process took place in the auditorium of the military registration and enlistment office. Future conscripts were invited to it. The judge considered the criminal case and found the boy guilty of evading conscription. The defendant was sentenced to one year’s restriction of liberty and sent to an open-type correctional facility.
29 September 2022
A 24-year-old Minsk resident who tried to avoid military service and went to Poland was sentenced to a two-month arrest. He was detained at the Belarusian border on his way back to home.
As journalists were told in the Pershamaiski District Prosecutor’s Office of Minsk, the young man was supposed to go to military service in 2020. He was served with a summons under his signature, but, however, he did not show up at the appointed time in the military enlistment office. In February 2021, a criminal case was opened against a citizen of Minsk for evading military service and he was put on the wanted list.
In August 2022 the guy was detained while crossing the Polish-Belarusian border. He explained that he had worked as a taxi driver in 2020 and shortly before the draft started, he had been involved in a traffic accident and received a heavy fine. According to him, because he was fired from his job, he went to earn a living to Poland. The court found the citizen of Minsk guilty under part 1 of Art. 435 of the Criminal Code (evasion of military conscription) and sentenced him to two months of arrest.
4 October 2022
It became known that that an 18-year-old boy, accused of evading conscription, will be tried in Minsk. The guy was sent a summons and the military registration and enlistment office took his signature about criminal responsibility for evasion. However, he didn’t come to the medical commission or for additional examinations without any valid reasons.
According to the prosecutor’s office, employees of the military registration and enlistment office repeatedly called the citizen of Minsk, but he did not answer them. He lied to his mother that he had undergone the necessary examination. “The defendant has no previous convictions. He works as a tiler in a state-run organization,” Deputy Prosecutor of Partyzanski district of Minsk Timur Stuzhuk told state media. The citizen of Minsk was charged under Part 1 of Art. 435 of the Criminal Code (evasion of military service). He faces up to two years of imprisonment.
10 October 2022
Partyzanski District Court of Minsk considered a criminal case against a 19-year-old boy accused of evading conscription. According to the court materials, the accused man, being a conscript and having been warned of criminal responsibility for evading military service, from February 1, 2022 to May 31, 2022 “maliciously evaded military service until the end of the enlistment term, in particular, he did not appear three times without a valid reason to the place of conscription for military service”.
The young man admitted the guilt in full. During the trial, he explained that he had failed to attend the medical examination without a valid reason, as he had undertaken it lightly. The court considered that his sincere repentance was a mitigating circumstance. As a result, he was found guilty of evading conscription and sentenced to 240 hours of public works.
22 November 2022
A criminal case against a 24-year-old resident of Luninets district for evading conscription was sent to court. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the accused man has been on the wanted list as a person not fulfilling military registration duties since the fall of 2015. In May 2020, police officers found him and brought him to the military registration and enlistment office, where the guy was handed a summons under his signature and notified that he had to undergo an obligatory medical examination before conscription procedure for the military service. However, the defendant did not appear either for medical examination or at the military commissariat.
“The young man changed his name during the conscription campaign in 2020 and went to work in the Russian Federation. Upon returning home in 2022, he was detained by law enforcement,” the prosecutor’s office said. Criminal proceedings were instituted against the guy under Article 435, Part 1 of the Criminal Code (‘Evasion from activities on draft to the military service’). The article provides for punishment in the form of community service, a fine, arrest, restriction of liberty or up to two years in a penal colony.
2 December 2022
In Stolin, a court verdict was announced against a 27-year-old resident of town Stolin. He was accused of evading conscription for military service. In May 2020, the defendant received a subpoena under personal signature at his place of residency in which he was ordered to appear at the military registration and enlistment office for the passage of events for conscription to urgent military service, service in the reserve.
However, the young man did not appear at the address indicated in the summons. In December 2020, he was put on the wanted list. The man was found in June 2022 in Russia. There he was detained by the police and handed over to the Belarusian side. The court found the young man guilty and sentenced him to three months of arrest.
10 March 2023
Military Commissariat of Brest and the Brest region organized a mobile court session for trying an 18-year-old boy who refused to serve in the Belarusian army. The defendant failed a medical examination without a valid reason and did not appear at the military registration and enlistment office on the date specified in the summons.
During the trial he admitted his guilt in full, explaining that he “did not want to go to the army because he was afraid of being sent to the war”. The court found the defendant’s fear unconvincing and sentenced the young man to a fine of 60 basic units (2,220 rubles). This court session was also used by the authorities both for propaganda purposes and to intimidate young people: high schoolers and draft-age youths from local schools were gathered for it.
13 March 2023
Hrodna Regional Court started hearing the case against 19-year-old Anita Bakunovich, former customs officer Mikalai Kuleshou and army evader Yehor Kurzin. All of them were detained near the Lithuanian fence while trying to cross the border illegally. Yehor Kurzin was accused of illegal border crossing as well as draft evasion.
21-year-old Yehor Kurzin in the propaganda film of Belarusian television (BT) said that he had studied for a year at the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radio Electronics (BSUIR) and had been expelled for academic failure. According to the propaganda story, the guy allegedly made up a story about political persecution, because he did not want to join the army, and “was not listed in the political prisoners” (namely BT used such wording).
Child political prisoners and other pressure on minors for taking pictures and sharing information about the movement of Russian troops in Belarus.
Minor Pavel Piskun was accused of filming Russian military equipment on his mobile phone on February 27, 2022 and sending this video along with an accompanying text in which he spoke about the amount of military vehicles, direction of their movement and distinctive features to an “extremist” Telegram channel.
According to the prosecution, Pavel Piskun’s actions contributed to extremist activities. He was also charged with filming Russian military equipment again a few days later and transferring the materials to the “extremist” Telegram channel. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Pavel Piskun was declared a political prisoner on September 23, 2022.
But three other students from the Gomel region – two schoolchildren and a lyceum student – learned about the location of military equipment and decided to go see it at night. As a result, protocols were drawn up against the parents of the teenagers for failing to fulfill their duties in raising their children.
Boarding military schools for boys (including orphans) in Belarus promoting the ideology of the «russian world»
In Belarus there are closed militarized boarding schools for boys starting from the age of 12, where they are taught skills in military affairs.
The aim of such institutions is to train personnel in military and sports specialties for the armed forces, other troops and military formations of the Republic of Belarus, as well as personnel for the bodies of internal affairs, the Investigation Committee, the State Committee of Forensic Expertise, emergency bodies and units, and other power structures. To put it briefly, from childhood, boys are trained to serve in the uniformed agencies of Lukashenko’s government.
The priority is given to boys in socially vulnerable situations, that is, to children whose parents were killed, died, or went missing while serving in the line of duty, as well as child orphans and children deprived of parental care (taken away from families according to Presidential Decree No. 18). During their studies, the boys are provided with free accommodation and living in accordance with the legal acts of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Belarus. For many of these children, the enforcement agencies become the only family they know, and Lukashenka is perceived as their “father”. As a result, personal devotion and loyalty to the “family” is formed.
A whole system of cadet schools is working in Belarus in various cities and towns of the country. They were established and are operating based on the presidential decree No. 54, dated January 28, 2010, “On Cadet Schools”.
Some of these institutions only provide round-the-clock accommodation for the cadets, where they live in the educational institution. Others have classes during the day, like normal schools, and the teenagers go home at night.
The main cadet school of this kind, located in Minsk, is called the “Suvorov Military School,” named after Alexander Suvorov, a Russian military leader who actively fought against Belarusians and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 18th century. For example, in 1771, Suvorov defeated the Belarusian Hetman of the GDL, Mikhail Kazimir Oginski, near Stolovichy.
The name of Aleksandr Suvorov is a clear indication of the cadet school’s affiliation with the “russian world” and its historical narratives.
The Lieutenant General Aleksei Ignatiev initiated the opening of such cadet schools: on April 17, 1943, he addressed a letter to Stalin, suggesting creating one cadet corps in Moscow as an experiment. Stalin made two modifications: the cadet schools were named after Suvorov, and nine of them were founded in different cities of the USSR.
According to Soviet propaganda, these schools were established “in response to numerous requests from servicemen, former partisans, and workers.” As a result, in 1951, the Council of Ministers of the Belarusian SSR and the Command of the Belarusian Military District sent a petition to the Council of Ministers of the USSR requesting the establishment of a Suvorov Military School in Minsk.
In accordance with the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No. 1846-1 dated May 21, 1952, the military school was opened in 1953. The first year, pupils were enrolled into various forms to raise children of warriors and partisans of the Great Patriotic War, as well as child orphans whose parents perished at war, i.e., street children.
Today there are about 400 pupils in Minsk Suvorov Military School. The tuition period is 5 years.
Minsk City Cadet School: 192 pupils.
According to the information provided by the Belarusian union of cadets, currently over 10 thousand cadet graduates live in Belarus. About 2 thousand of them are graduates from Minsk Suvorov Military School.
There is also a Minsk City Cadet School, which is a state specialized secondary educational institution providing 2nd and 3rd degree education (for students in grades 8-11), as well as basic and secondary general education. Additionally, the cadet school provides primary knowledge and skills in military affairs and service in border troops to help students choose their future professions. The founder of the cadet school is the Administration of Education, Sport, and Tourism under the Pervomajsky District Administration of Minsk. It can be considered a less intensive version of Minsk Suvorov Military School.
There is also a Specialized Lyceum of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (former Minsk City Cadet School # 1).
Educational Institutions of the cadet education system:
– Minsk Suvorov Military School,
– Specialized Lyceum of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (former MCCS #1),
– Specialized Lyceum under Civil Protection University of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry,
– Brest Regional Cadet School,
– Vitebsk Cadet School,
– Gomel State Cadet School,
– Grodno Regional Cadet School,
– Minsk Regional Cadet School,
– Minsk City Cadet School,
– Polotsk Cadet Corps,
– Mogilev Regional Cadet School,
– Slonim Cadet Corps at the premises of Secondary School N. 9 of Slonim.
Categories of children that have the right to enter the school without taking the entrance examination, provided they pass the medical examination and the psychological test, include: children of military personnel, officers, and staff of the bodies of internal affairs, financial investigation bodies at the State Control Committee, and emergency situation bodies and divisions, who perished, died or went missing in the line of duty.
Categories of children with the right of admission without taking part in a competition, provided they get a mark not less than 3 (three) at the entrance exams:
-children of military personnel, officers and staff of the bodies of internal affairs, financial investigation bodies at the State Control Committee, emergency situation bodies and divisions, who have sustained a disability in the line of duty or as well as deceased in the result of wounds, contusions, injuries or diseases obtained in the line of duty;
–orphan children and children deprived of parental care;
–children who passed admission to a sports specialized form.
If places are available after admission of candidates possessing the right to enter the school without passing exams or taking part in the competition, the remaining candidates, who obtained the mark 3 (three) and higher at the entrance exams on Mathematics and Russian (Belarusian), are admitted on competition basis.
If the number of points scored is equal, candidates with higher results in mathematics have the advantage.
Terms of stay at the military school: round-the-clock
In 2006, sports specialized forms were created on the basis of a presidential decree, offering training in judo, Greco-Roman wrestling, shooting, and handball. Candidates are chosen and directed to the sports specialized form of the military school by the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus in collaboration with the state body “Sport Committee of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus”. They are admitted according to the Ministry of Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Belarus’ Ordinance No. 33/42, dated October 9, 2006, “On the Approval of the Instruction on the Procedure for the Selection of Children for Sports Specialized Forms of the Educational Institution ‘Minsk Suvorov Military School'”.
Material and technical support of the Suvorov Military School includes:
– Five meals a day.
– Full provision of military clothing.
– Physiotherapy room, dental office, clinic, pharmacy, and infirmary with 25 beds.
– Sewing workshop, shoe repair shop, hairdresser, and sauna that provide services to cadets of the Suvorov Military School free of charge.
The school admits about 100 new cadets every year and about 50-70 cadets graduate annually.
Cadets of the Suvorov Military School have significant benefits when it comes to admission to universities. They can be admitted without taking exams under the following conditions:
– Those who graduated from the Suvorov Military School in the year of entering the university with marks of six or higher for all the subjects in the curriculum and are directed to the university according to the distribution plan for further education in specialties such as control of units and maintenance of service arms activity with professional qualifications in “management specialist – engineer”.
– Those who successfully completed their studies in sports specialized forms and are directed, according to the distribution plan for Minsk Suvorov Military School, to continue their education in the field of sports and physical education.
They are admitted without competition (except in rare cases such as admission to medical higher educational establishments), provided they have marks not lower than six in the subjects of entrance exams in their certificate of education. To be eligible for these benefits, they must enter the university in the year of graduation from the military school and be directed there according to the plan of distribution of the cadets of Minsk Suvorov Military School for further education in higher educational establishments of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Emergency Situations, and military faculties at other higher educational institutions.
Children’s militarization in Belarus and preparation of children for participation in warfare on Russia’s side
On August 29, 2022, the Deputy Director of the Republican Center for Health Improvement and Sanatorium Treatment of the Population of Belarus, Aliaksandr Tsai, announced that in the summer of 2022, 480 military patriotic camps were organized in Belarus through the offices of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Defense, in which over 18 thousand minors participated in the “health improvement program.” Considering that the approximate total number of children in Belarus as of January 1, 2022, was 1 million 848 thousand, it can be stated that every 55th minor in Belarus (approximately 2%) participated in such militarized camps in 2022, and may have been illegally involved in various armed groups. It should be noted that such militarized camps foist on children the ideology of the “russian world,” including propagandist historical and cultural rhetoric. In fact, such a camp is a nine-day-long preparation of children to become full-fledged military reservists, legally formalized as a “nine-day-long health recreation for children”.
Children did marching drills, assembled and disassembled weapons, practiced physical exercises, learned to navigate the terrain. Every day the trainees studied combat training subjects of military units, practiced providing first aid, mastered skills of firing airsoft weapons, air guns, and firearms. They had regular classes on the basics of safety and emergency response. Additionally, they were able to familiarize themselves with military equipment, observe weapons at the military unit, and try their hand at hand-to-hand combat.
Representatives of the delegation of the Russian search movements in the Chechen Republic visited the Youth Patriotic Center on April 23, 2022. At the meeting agreements were reached for the search movement development and cooperation between children and youth patriotic clubs of the regions.
July 29, 2022. Uladzimir Parkhomtsau, an official representative of the Interior Ministry troops of Belarus, stated: “Only this summer, 25 camps have been established in the Interior Ministry troops, 16 of which operate round-the-clock.”
July 7, 2022. Belarusian children are being taught to shoot firearms and to “be patriotic”. The Interior Ministry troops have already opened 17 clubs and 146 camps. They began discussing the idea of opening children’s clubs under the patronage of military units after the protests in 2020. Currently, there are 17 such clubs in the country, where about 1.5 thousand children study, and there are 150 special camps for children. This was stated in the documentary “School of Patriots” on the TV channel “Belarus 1”.
Lukashenka is creating paramilitary bodies and calls them “people’s militia”
An issue of creating the so-called “people’s militia” is being discussed again in Belarus today. Back on April 16, 2023, the Belarusian regime introduced the long-announced draft bill “About people’s militia” in the House of Representatives which is totally controlled by Lukashenka. For some reason, the text of the draft law was published on the National Legal Internet Portal only on May 23, 2023. When the consideration of the bill is going take place is not clear; at least, that document is not present in the public agenda of the current session of the illegitimate parliament (but it can appear there any moment). However, at least now Our House is able to analyze the said document.
What does the draft bill say?
As the definition of the subject suggests, the “people’s militia” in Belarus are armed formations constituting of civilians (obviously, fierce supporters of Lukashenka) who wish to enforce martial law in the territory of their population centre or district. The people’s militia will be established by an order of Aliaksandr Lukashenka in case martial law is imposed in the country, and dismissed with the lifting of martial law and, again, by the order of Lukashenka.
The main task of the people’s militia is to provide help to local interior bodies (the police) to “ensure the order and protect property from various attacks”. Also, the militia can be attracted “for other tasks on the provision of martial law”. The bill says directly the following: “People’s militia units are formed on the grounds of decisions passed by local executive and administrative bodies, local councils of defense”. That means that what in fact is formed are groups of armed civilians controlled by local administrations. In case the central authority “flinches” at least a little (which is more than probable in a situation of war), we will get Belarus torn apart by badly controlled units of armed people.
Let’s continue with the definitions of the bill. A people’s militia unit is an armed formation created within the framework of an administrative and territorial unit (population centre or district). A volunteer of the people’s militia is a citizen who permanently or predominantly lives in the specific territory and expresses desire to become a militiaman, passes qualification for that (including qualification by the KGB on the loyalty to the Belarusian regime) and gets enlisted to a militia unit. Every such paramilitary unit is going to have their own insignia, established by local authorities.
The quantity of units and their size will depend on the number of the available volunteers and on the type of tasks they will have to perform. The units will be deployed within the borders of their population centres or districts, and will carry out tasks in the same borders. Nevertheless, if needed, they can act together with the neighboring armed units.
The militia units are going to be financed and supported by local budgets, “voluntary” donations and other legal sources. Local authorities undertake to provide the necessary premises, territories and all material resources for the militia. Except for, obviously, weapons and ammunition. Those are to be provided by the Ministry of Defense in the quantity determined by the General Staff.
The general management of the militia in the limits of the borders of each specific administrative and territorial unit shall be carried out by the local council of defense. That is, a council created by local power bodies in case martial law is imposed. Formally, the councils of defense fall under the chain of command of the Security Council and interact with the General Staff, while the direct leadership is imposed on heads of local executive committees. Such councils must include the head of the local executive committee and the deputies, the military commissioner, heads of the interior bodies, the KGB and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The rest of the members shall be appointed by the head of the executive committee.
However, it is obvious that in the situation of a real war, most probably the normal interaction with the center will soon be disturbed. What should be done then? According to the draft bill, councils of defense ensure martial law on the ground managing and administrating, in fact, a specific population centre, district, region in all the main aspects. The militia units on the ground performing the main task shall be commanded by the local police.
Local executive committees (councils of defense) shall choose militiamen out of volunteers. Local conscription and enlistment offices shall also participate in the process: they are going to approve the candidates, keep records of volunteers and train them together with the state bodies and the police. Still before the martial law, i.e., in peace time, state bodies can carry out activities to train for the formation of the armed units. The order of such trainings, as well as the rules of formation of such units, enrollment in the militia and release from it shall be determined by the Council of Ministers. Every militia unit shall have a commander and a deputy (deputies). They shall be chosen out of volunteers; candidates shall be approved by the local leadership of the police and of the KGB.
The militiamen shall live at home, not in the barracks. Joining the militia does not entail dismissal from work. A volunteer only has to inform the employer about that, and the employer shall be obliged to retain the employee’s job, position and medium wage, at the same time releasing him from work to participate in the activities of the militia. Service in the militia does not exempt from military service. If a militiaman is drafted for mobilization, he shall be sent to military units.
If we take a glance at the list of duties of a militiaman, we will see that armed units of people are supposed to help local authorities in their multiple chores and troubles evoked by a martial law. Also, about 80-90% of the militia’s duties coincide with the duties of territorial defense units, which are, by the way, being formed on similar principals, and which have already been created and are acting in Belarus. The reasons why militarized structures, which duplicate each other and differ in subordination only, are being formed, are totally unclear.
Unexpectedly, the rights of the militia units turned out to be extremely vast. Thus, according to the document, while fulfilling their tasks, the militiamen have a right:
- to use physical force and weapons (in the limits established by the law for the military attracted to ensure the martial law). In practice this means to kill people without investigation and trial;
- to detain criminals and offenders with the aim to transfer them to the police or other force authorities;
- to demand from citizens to respect the rules and restrictions of martial law, to demand the cessation of violations or actions impeding the militia to perform their tasks;
- to perform limitations of movement, searches and detention of vehicles;
- to organize admission of transport to restricted objects;
- to carry out control of documents and personal searches of citizens and their belongings. In practice, in Belarus it means a right to marauding and seizure of money and valuables without investigation and trial;
- to seize belongings of citizens during a search, if they can be a weapon or an object of an offense, for further transfer to the police. Similarly, thus, a right to commit marauding is ensured;
- to search homes and other property of citizens, objects of organizations, also during persecution of people suspected of committing a crime, for further transfer to the police. Analogically, in practice that ensures the right to commit robbery and marauding in flats and houses;
- to use someone else’s vehicles to transport the wounded, victims in different circumstances, people in need of urgent medical help to medical institutions. In practice this means that any car they like will be taken from its owner;
If needed, the militia may be granted other rights in the framework of the legislation.
It seems like it is an eloquent illustration of a famous saying of Mao Tse Tung: “Power comes from the barrel of a gun”.
Short and foggy history of the people’s militia in Belarus
The first time the new armed formations were mentioned was in May, 2022: the Defense Minister, Viktor Khrenin, said then that he was given a task to create people’s militia in Belarus: “The Commander-in-Chief has set a task to create, among others, a people’s militia in our country. As we see, this issue is indeed very needed. Most importantly, we have both people and weapons to do that. Thanks to that, the number of the defenders of the motherland will multiply several times, and everyone will see that they’d better not dare to come to Belarus”.
Several days later, on June 3, 2022, Aliaksandr Lukashenka also mentioned his idea of creating the people’s militia. He said that the experience of Ukraine had made him think about that: “I thought that just in case, we need to have that people’s militia, a group of people, under every village council. There will be few of them. Maybe, 50 people. But they must also have their own weapons stored somewhere. We are calling them up for training, they take their own machine guns (mainly, a machine gun, a grenade launcher, a pistol) to defend their home. Yet, there should be no uncontrolled distribution of arms”.
Still before signing the draft bill “About people’s militia”, the Belarusian regime started launching “pilot projects”. Thus, the first experiment took place in the autumn of 2022 on the basis of Lobzhany Village Council in Klimavichy district of Mogilev region. In April, 2023, similar trainings took place in Barysaw district, two districts of Grodno region, and in May – in Volkovysk District. Another people’s militia unit was created under Glivinsky Village Council, with 25 volunteers, four others were in the reserves. Yet, those structures have no legal status at all.
The Belarusian regime is taking the path of many other dictatorial regimes that mass-produced force structures and stimulated competition between them, as they were scared of people in uniforms and did not trust them, but had no one else to rely on. This is why, besides the territorial defense, also the people’s militia for the local power bodies is being formed in advance.
Belarus is rapidly moving towards military dictatorship.