Russia’s number one enemy – Bill Browder – tweeted this piece this morning in which reports that president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has threatened to kill two dissidents now residing in the UK. The threat: “We will definitely find you…and we will hang you, side-by-side.”
The dissidents: Natalia Kaliada and husband Nicolai Khalezin. Kaliada was a former diplomat and her husband was a journalist but both now focus their time and efforts on the Belarus Free Theatre which promotes plays with anti-regime messages.
Should these threats be taken seriously? In short, yes. Alexander Lukashenko has not only backed political assassinations in Germany but is also reported to have a slush fund which is kept aside specifically to finance said assassinations.What is worse, Belarus has already sanctioned political assassinations in Germany. Lukashenko seems to be taking hints and tips from Vladimir Putin’s operational handbook which shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is no secret that the men are supporters of one another’s regimes.
Vladimir Putin himself sanctioned overseas murders for those he believed had committed treason or would offer classified information. This, as we all well know, let to the poisonings of Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Those are only two assassinations that have been popularized. Other assassinations have been reported by Buzzfeed News in their breakthrough article: From Russia with Blood (now extended into a book).
For now, it is best to highlight the issue of the death threats and make it as widespread as possible in the hope that the spotlight deters Belarus from carrying through with their threat.