Trial of former Belarusian security forces opens in Switzerland

Yuri Harauski has already confessed to having participated in the kidnapping and murder of three political opponents of President Lukashenko. His trial opens on Tuesday 19 September in Switzerland. The opportunity to judge his crimes and perhaps shed light on certain abuses of the Belarusian authoritarian regime.

Alexander Lukashenko could be worried by what will be said at the trial of the former member of the Belarusian security forces, Yuri Harauski, which opens this Tuesday, September 17 in Switzerland. © Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP

By: Daniel Vallot Follow


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It is an unprecedented trial that opens this Tuesday, September 19 in Switzerland. That of Yuri Harauski, a former member of the Belarusian security forces, accused of having participated in the disappearance of three opponents of the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. The trial, organized under the universal jurisdiction of Swiss justice, could shed light on crimes perpetrated by the Belarusian authorities.

Harauski has already acknowledged this himself: in 1999 he participated in the kidnapping and murder of three opponents of President Lukashenko. He belonged to a rapid intervention unit of the Belarusian security forces before fleeing his country in the 2010s to seek asylum in Switzerland. "He himself confessed to having participated in the enforced disappearance of three political opponents," explains Clémence Bectarte, a lawyer with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). It was these statements that allowed us, human rights associations, to file a complaint against him in Switzerland so that legal proceedings could be initiated against him for enforced disappearance.


See alsoThousands of Belarusian exiles risk being without passports

A trial for kidnappings and murders, but not only

In his confession, the former policeman recounts how his unit kidnapped the three opponents – Yuri Zakharenka, former Minister of the Interior; Viktar Hanchar, former Deputy Prime Minister; and businessman Anatoly Krasouski. Then how they were taken to a military base before being coldly executed. A crucial testimony for the families of the victims who have had no information for more than 20 years on the fate of the three men.


It is also a light that is made on the repressive regime of President Lukashenko which is still at work today, explains Clémence Bectarte. How does this elite unit operate? Under whose orders? How is it composed and how can this type of crime, which are executions of opponents ordered at the highest level of the state, happen? »

This trial therefore also echoes the dramatic situation of thousands of opponents imprisoned since the 2020 protest movement. And FIDH hopes that the facts established there will allow them to be used later to prosecute those who ordered these crimes. Including President Alexander Lukashenko.

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Belarus
  • Justice
  • Switzerland
  • Alexandre Loukachenko