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BSU Uncut: 2020-2024. Part 1

Numerous denunciations, brutal arrests, mass dismissals and expulsions for political reasons have now become the norm within the walls of higher education institutions in Belarus. In this material, we will show in detail on the example of Belarusian State University (BSU), which is considered to be the leading higher education institution in the country.


Outraged by the politically motivated public harassment conducted by the leadership of this educational institution, the Cyberpartisans infiltrated the BSU's internal network in the summer of 2023. We have received a lot of materials that allow us to expose the "internal kitchen" of the university. Reports to the police department, prosecutor's office, Lukashenko's administration on "political" dismissals and expulsions, surveillance of teachers, violations of moral norms, intrigues, and hypocrisy even towards their own "associates". We will systematically review the most interesting moments of BSU's underside in the period from 2020 to 2024. We will use this university as an example of what the country's higher education institutions have become under Lukashenko's dictatorship. The picture that emerges in BSU is repeated, regretfully, in other Belarusian universities.



 

Briefly About BSU And Protests In the Academic Environment


Belarusian State University was established by the decision of the BSSR government in 1919. Today it is considered to be the flagship of higher education in Belarus and the largest scientific centre in the country. The structure of BSU includes 16 faculties, 11 educational institutes and teaching centres; 177 departments; 6 research institutes, production enterprises and museums; and 1 scientific and technological park.


The number of students in the BSU complex according to official data is more than 20,000 people. The staff includes more than 3000 teachers.


It is not surprising that such a developed academic community did not stay on the sidelines of the 2020 protests in response to the rigged presidential elections in Belarus, political repression and violence against peaceful citizens. The first public appeals on behalf of BSU alumni and students for fair elections appeared as early as 9 August 2020, on the actual voting day.


Many BSU staff and students also joined the protest that swept across the country in response to the killings and torture in the first days after the rigged election. Students and teachers united to organise strikes and protests. On 12 August, more than 1,000 people signed a petition to BSU Rector Andrei Korol, asking him to publicly call for an end to violence against civilians.


In response to public pressure, Andrei Korol released an appeal on 14 August, where he assured that there would be no expulsions and dismissals in BSU for participation in peaceful actions.


Now we will show how many students and teachers were actually dismissed and expelled for political reasons at the Belarusian State University in the period 2020-2023.


Real Statistics Of Dismissals And Expulsions In BSU For Political Reasons


Below is an unofficial letter from the university management to Viktor Shaban, prosecutor of Maskouski district of Minsk. According to this document, 140 students were expelled from BSU for political reasons since 9 August 2020. In addition, 50 employees were fired, two received remarks and three received reprimands. All this is openly written in the report sent from the university to the dictator's penal structures.


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However, even these figures do not reflect the full picture of political repression at the university. Many more teachers were forced under pressure to leave by mutual agreement. Below are the dynamics of BSU staffing indicators from 2018 to 2022. As you can see, until 2020, the number of employees was smoothly growing, and then began to decline rapidly. Only for 2 years more than 450 people left their positions.


Screenshot from the document "Динамика кадровых показателей БГУ 2018 2022". The document was found on the BSU servers
Screenshot from the document "Динамика кадровых показателей БГУ 2018 2022". The document was found on the BSU servers

We also found saved audio recordings on one of the computers on the BSU intranet. Some of them were probably left on an employee's voicemail, others may have been secretly made to compromise colleagues. This collection of dozens of audio recordings helped us to get a real picture of what was going on inside the university. Among the saved materials was a recording of the rector, Andrei Korol, stating that no less than 500 employees of the university had fallen victim to the political purge.


Of course, officially such statistics are carefully concealed.



BSU Rector Helps the Police Arrest Students


On 22 October 2020, at an online meeting with BSU students, the university management stated the following:


"All the governing bodies of the university are doing everything to ensure that the impact of the political and social crisis on the educational process is minimised. By the decision of the BSU Council on 18 August it was determined that BSU should stay out of politics and political events in our country, which are currently taking place."

However, in reality, BSU Rector Andrei Korol personally reported to Andrei Galenka, an acquaintance of the Interior Ministry, about where and how the student actions were taking place. Below you can see their messages in the messenger Viber.




Those Who Are Still Involved In the Repression Of BSU Students And Professors


In the second part of the investigation, we will elaborate on the two-faced character of the BSU rector, which manifests itself even among his superiors, his colleagues and close people.


And now we will show the employees, who helped Andrei Korol to launch a whole repressive campaign within the walls of the university. All the people whose names and photos you see below, as well as several other BSU employees, have been engaged in intimidation, pressure, surveillance, political dismissals, expulsions and denunciations of students and teachers to the regime's law enforcement agencies for 4 years since 2020.




With their complicity, the main activities of the university are supervised personally by the Chairperson of the Council of the Republic Natalia Kochanova, as well as by the staff from Lukashenko's administration and the KGB. After all, Lukashenka's son Nikolai (at the Faculty of Biology) and grandson Alexander (at the BSU Institute of Economics) are currently studying at the university. By all possible means, the supporters of the dictatorship are trying to prevent free thought and democracy at the university.



From special services, authorities, and structures of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they openly receive orders that violate the law. Below is an official request from the GUBOPiK by the deputy head of the department, Dmitri Kovacs, who demands to prevent the university from admitting the applicant on the sole grounds that he participated in peaceful protests and left comments online against the dictatorship.



Close co-operation with the punitive structures went so far as to make so-called penitential videos at the university. One of them was published on 23 May 2023 on the official page of the BSU Faculty of Law on Instagram.


The video of the student being forced on camera to confess to allegedly unlawful acts was a violation of basic human rights within the walls of the university. It put the university on the same level as Lukashenko's punitive structures, which in the same way under pressure and violence force people in a non-procedural form to incriminate themselves on camera.


Such actions provoked an attack of Cyberpartisans on the BSU internal network. We extracted more than 3 terabytes of data, some of which are presented in our investigation.



Political Repressions In BSU 2023-2024


Unfortunately, the repressive campaign at the university has not stopped to this day. Employees continue to be dismissed for political reasons, and those who remain are constantly monitored via social media. In the investigative video, we included fragments of the BSU rector's interrogation of two teachers behind closed office doors on 22 August 2023, during which he forced the employees to write explanatory statements about their political stance and their presence in places of mass protests.


We have also published an audio recording from 2024, in which the KGB officer Yaroslav Cherkassky, who also holds the position of vice-rector for security and human resources at BSU, says that two university employees should be dismissed for political reasons. Moreover, this should be done by a certain employee, whose loyalty to the KGB is doubted, as he had not previously participated in the ideological purges of the university.


Since systematic violations of the rights of employees and students in BSU do not stop, we believe that we must publish the secrets of the university management that we know and expose its "internal kitchen". The background of the country's leading university, which under Lukashenka and his appointees has been transformed into a regime institution, will be covered in the next part of the investigation.


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